SpongeBob SquarePants (film series)

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SpongeBob SquarePants
Logotype created for the 2015 film The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water.
Logotype for the 2015 film
Directed by Stephen Hillenburg (1)
Paul Tibbitt (2)
Tim Hill (3)
Produced by See below
Written by See below
Based on SpongeBob SquarePants
by Stephen Hillenburg
Starring Tom Kenny
Bill Fagerbakke
Rodger Bumpass
Clancy Brown
Mr. Lawrence
Jill Talley
Carolyn Lawrence
Mary Jo Catlett
Lori Alan
(See below)
Narrated by Tom Kenny (1)
Music by See below
Distributed by Paramount Pictures
Release date
Running time
180 minutes (1–2)
Country United States
Language English
Budget Total (2 films):
$104 million
Box office Total (2 films):
$463.6 million

SpongeBob SquarePants is an American animated/live-action comedy film series based on the Nickelodeon television program of the same name, created by Stephen Hillenburg. It began in 2004 with the release of The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie. The series is distributed and owned by Paramount Pictures, a subsidiary of Nickelodeon's parent company Viacom. All films feature the regular television voice cast: Tom Kenny, Bill Fagerbakke, Rodger Bumpass, Clancy Brown, Mr. Lawrence, Jill Talley, Carolyn Lawrence, Mary Jo Catlett and Lori Alan. The first installment is directed by Hillenburg, the second is directed by former showrunner Paul Tibbitt, and the third is directed by former writer Tim Hill.

Plans for a film based on the series began in 2001, when Nickelodeon and Paramount Pictures began approaching Hillenburg for a theatrical feature. He initially refused their offers, but began developing it in 2002 upon completion of the show's third season. The first movie was theatrically released in the United States on November 19, 2004 to critical and commercial success. It was originally planned to act as the series finale, but the franchise's success led to the production of more episodes. A stand-alone sequel followed in 2015 and a third film is scheduled for release on July 17, 2020.

All films in the series have been made available on DVD, Blu-Ray, digital download, streaming media, and video on demand.[1] The first installment was also made available on VHS and UMD Video.


The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie (2004)[edit]

In this live-action animated comedy, Plankton's plan is to steal King Neptune's crown and send it to the dangerous Shell City, and then frame Mr. Krabs for the crime. SpongeBob and Patrick must journey to the dangerous Shell City while facing several perils along the way to retrieve the crown to save Mr. Krabs from Neptune's wrath and Bikini Bottom from Plankton's tyranny.

The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water (2015)[edit]

The plot follows a pirate named Burger Beard (Antonio Banderas), who steals the Krabby Patty secret formula using a magical book that makes any text written upon it come true. After Bikini Bottom turns into an apocalyptic cesspool and the citizens turn against SpongeBob, he must team up with Plankton to find the formula and save Bikini Bottom. Later, SpongeBob, Patrick, Squidward, Mr. Krabs, Sandy and Plankton must travel to the surface to confront Burger Beard and get the formula back before Bikini Bottom is completely destroyed.

The SpongeBob Movie: It's a Wonderful Sponge (2020)[edit]

On April 30, 2015, Viacom announced a third movie was in development.[2] On August 3, 2015, showrunner Vincent Waller confirmed that the film was in pre-production.[3] By January 2016, Jonathan Aibel and Glenn Berger were involved as writers on the film.[4] The film was initially set to be released on February 8, 2019, but was pushed to August 2, 2019 in March 2017.[5] In December 2017, the film's release was delayed again to July 31, 2020.[6] On March 28, 2017, Yahoo! Movies reported that the film had temporarily been given the title The SpongeBob Movie in pre-production.[7] Vincent Waller later suggested that this was a placeholder title.[8] The show's principal voice actors—Tom Kenny, Bill Fagerbakke, Rodger Bumpass, Clancy Brown, Mr. Lawrence, Jill Talley, Carolyn Lawrence, Mary Jo Catlett and Lori Alan—are expected to reprise their roles.[9] In April 2018, it was announced that the film would be titled The SpongeBob Movie: It's a Wonderful Sponge, and that it would be written and directed by Tim Hill.[10][11] In July 2018, the film's release date was moved up to July 17, 2020, and it was announced that the film would be written by Aibel, Berger, and Michael Kvamme.[12]

Cast and characters[edit]

Characters Films
The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie The SpongeBob Movie:
Sponge Out of Water
The SpongeBob Movie:
It's a Wonderful Sponge
2004 2015 2020
SpongeBob SquarePants Tom Kenny
Gary the Snail
Patrick Star Bill Fagerbakke
Squidward Tentacles Rodger Bumpass
Mr. Eugene Krabs Clancy Brown
Sheldon Plankton Mr. Lawrence
Karen Plankton Jill Talley
Sandra "Sandy" Cheeks Carolyn Lawrence
Mrs. Puff Mary Jo Catlett
Pearl Krabs Lori Alan
King Neptune Jeffrey Tambor
Princess Mindy Scarlett Johansson
Dennis Alec Baldwin
David Hasselhoff Himself
Burger-Beard Antonio Banderas
Bubbles Matt Berry
  • Note: A dark grey cell indicates that the character does not appear in the film.


The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie[edit]

Nickelodeon and Paramount Pictures had approached SpongeBob SquarePants creator Stephen Hillenburg for a film based on the show as early as 2001, but he refused for more than a year.[13] He was concerned, after watching The Iron Giant and Toy Story with his sons, about the challenge of SpongeBob and Patrick doing something more cinematically consequential and inspiring without losing what he calls the SpongeBob "cadence."[13] He said, on a break from season four post-production, "To do a 75-minute movie about SpongeBob wanting to make some jellyfish jelly would be a mistake, I think [...] This had to be SpongeBob in a great adventure. That's where the comedy's coming from, having these two naïve characters, SpongeBob and Patrick, a doofus and an idiot, on this incredibly dangerous heroic odyssey with all the odds against them."[13] The writers decided to write a mythical hero's quest for the 2004 film: the search for a stolen crown, which brings SpongeBob and Patrick to the surface.[14] Of the plot, Bill Fagerbakke (the voice of Patrick) said, "It's just nuts. I'm continually dazzled and delighted with what these guys came up with."[15]

Production on the first film began in 2002 after Hillenburg and the show's staff completed the third season.[16] A tongue-in-cheek announcement of the film's plot from early on stated that it would feature SpongeBob rescuing Patrick from a fisherman in Florida.[16] This was intended as a humorous reference to Finding Nemo and was later confirmed by Tom Kenny (the voice of SpongeBob) to be a "joke" plot to keep fans busy.[16] Hillenburg wrote the film with five other writer-animators from the show (Paul Tibbitt, Derek Drymon, Aaron Springer, Kent Osborne and Tim Hill) over a three-month period in a room of a former Glendale, California bank.[13] Osborne said, "It was hugely fun [...] although it did get kind of gamy in there."[13] At the beginning of the series, Hillenburg screened a number of silent shorts (from Laurel and Hardy, Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton) and work by two modern comic actors: Jerry Lewis and Pee-wee Herman, who were both inspirations for SpongeBob.[14]

The first film was intended to be the series finale; Hillenburg wanted to end the franchise after the movie was completed so it "wouldn't jump the shark". However, Nickelodeon desired more episodes due to the franchise's growing popularity.[17] Hillenburg stated: "Well, there was concern when we did the movie [in 2004] that the show had peaked. There were concerns among executives at Nickelodeon."[18][19] As a result, Hillenburg resigned as the series' showrunner,[20] appointing writer, director, and storyboard artist Paul Tibbitt to succeed him.[21] Tibbitt was one of Hillenburg's favorite crew members:[22] "[I] totally trusted him."[23] Tibbitt would remain showrunner until he was succeeded in 2015 by the show's creative director Vincent Waller and staff writer Marc Ceccarelli. He also acted as an executive producer from 2008 to 2016.[21][24] From the fourth season to the ninth, Hillenburg did not write or run the show on a day-to-day basis, but reviewed each episode and submitted suggestions: "I figure when I'm pretty old I can still paint [...] I don't know about running shows."[20][25] In 2015, Hillenburg returned to the show following the completion of the second movie as an executive producer, now having greater creative input and attending crew meetings.[26][27]

The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water[edit]

In 2010, The New York Times reported that Nickelodeon had approached the show's crew to make a second film adaptation.[28] The network hoped to give itself and the global franchise "a boost" by releasing another film.[29] The Los Angeles Times reported that Paramount had "another SpongeBob picture" in development in March 2011.[30] Philippe Dauman, then president and CEO of Paramount and Viacom, officially announced on February 28, 2012 that a sequel film was in development and slated for a 2014 release. He stated that Viacom "will be releasing a SpongeBob movie at the end of 2014."[31][32][33] Dauman added that the film "will serve to start off or be one of our films that starts off our new animation effort."[31] Nickelodeon expected the film to do much better in foreign box office than the 2004 feature, given its increasingly global reach.[29][34] Dauman said, "This will continue to propel SpongeBob internationally."[29]

Production on the second movie was announced on June 10, 2014 under the title The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie 2,[35][36] which some trade publications began referring to as SpongeBob SquarePants 2 and SpongeBob SquarePants 2: The Movie.[37] Stephen Hillenburg returned to act as the film's executive producer.[20][25] In a 2012 interview with former cast member Thomas F. Wilson, Hillenburg stated that he was contributing to the story of the film.[38] Tibbitt later revealed on Twitter in late 2013 that "Steve [Hillenburg] and I wrote the new movie together and he has been in the studio everyday working with us."[39] Production on the film was expected to finish in November 2014.[40]


Box office performance[edit]

Film Release date Box office Budget Ref(s)
Opening weekend
North America
North America Other territories Worldwide
The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie November 19, 2004 $32,018,216 $85,417,988 $54,743,804 $140,161,792 $30 million [41]
The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water February 6, 2015 $55,365,012 $162,994,032 $160,442,506 $323,436,538 $74 million [42]
Total $87,383,228 $248,412,020 $215,186,310 $463,598,330 $104 million

Critical and public reception[edit]

Film Rotten Tomatoes Metacritic CinemaScore
The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie 69% (128 reviews)[43] 66 (32 reviews)[44] B+[45]
The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water 80% (102 reviews)[46] 62 (27 reviews)[47] B[48]


Film Director(s) Producer(s) Writer(s) Composer Cinematographer Editor
The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie Stephen Hillenburg
Mark Osborne (live-action sequences)
Stephen Hillenburg and Julia Pistor Screenplay: Derek Drymon, Tim Hill, Stephen Hillenburg, Kent Osborne, Aaron Springer & Paul Tibbitt
Story: Stephen Hillenburg
Gregor Narholz Jerzy Zielinski Lynn Hobson
The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water Paul Tibbitt
Mike Mitchell (live-action sequences)
Paul Tibbitt and Mary Parent Screenplay: Jonathan Aibel & Glenn Berger
Story: Stephen Hillenburg & Paul Tibbitt
John Debney Phil Méheux David Ian Salter
The SpongeBob Movie: It's a Wonderful Sponge Tim Hill TBA Jonathan Aibel, Glenn Berger, Michael Kvamme[12] and Tim Hill[10] Christopher Lennertz TBA TBA


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  10. ^ a b Donnelly, Matt (April 25, 2018). "Paramount Animation Sets Three New Films, Including 'SpongeBob' Sequel". The Wrap. Retrieved April 26, 2018.
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  26. ^ Waller, Vincent (20 July 2015). "Vincent Waller on Twitter". Twitter. Retrieved 15 September 2016. Now [Hillenburg] has an office next to mine, and attends meetings.
  27. ^ Waller, Vincent (20 July 2015). "Vincent Waller on Twitter". Twitter. Retrieved 15 September 2016. Previously [Hillenburg] would occasionally send a note on a board or an outline. Now he is in meetings.
  28. ^ Barnes, Brooks (July 4, 2010). "Nickelodeon Tries Again to Move to the Big Screen". The New York Times. Retrieved August 12, 2013. Other films in development include a vehicle for Miranda Cosgrove, the star of the Nickelodeon seriesiCarly, and a family adventure built around Mattel's Magic 8-Ball toy. The creators of SpongeBob SquarePants have also been approached to do another film.
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