‘The Spongebob Movie: Sponge on the Run’ Skips Theaters, Will Debut on VOD in 2021

Animated sequel from Paramount and Nickelodeon Movies was meant to open theatrically on Aug. 7

Paramount Animation

“The Spongebob Movie: Sponge on the Run” from Paramount and Nickelodeon Movies is skipping theaters and will premiere on premium Video On Demand, followed by a debut exclusively on Viacom’s CBS All Access, ViacomCBS announced Monday.

The movie was meant to open in theaters on Aug. 7 after being pushed back from a May 22 theatrical release date, but it will now debut on VOD and on the streaming service in early 2021.

The move is part of CBS All Access’ rebranding into an expanded streaming service that should allow ViacomCBS to compete with Disney+, HBO Max, Peacock and other streaming services. The new platform will also launch with all seasons of the Nickelodeon kids series “Spongebob Squarepants.”

ViacomCBS president and CEO Bob Bakish suggested on an earnings call back in May that this move was possible, noting that they were still eager to release the film theatrically but would be watching the market.

Movies like “Trolls World Tour” and “Scoob!” have also debuted through premium VOD, though “Scoob!” is already making the jump to HBO Max. Theaters, too, have indicated that they will open their doors by mid-July nationwide. Some movies and studios have already filled-in some of those gaps to provide theaters with new content this summer.

The next film opening from Paramount will now be “A Quiet Place Part II,” which opens Sept. 4.

“Sponge on the Run” follows SpongeBob SquarePants, his best friend Patrick Star and the rest of the gang from Bikini Bottom in the first-ever all CGI SpongeBob motion picture event. After SpongeBob’s beloved pet snail Gary is snail-napped, he and Patrick embark on an epic adventure to The Lost City of Atlantic City to bring Gary home. As they navigate the delights and dangers on their rescue mission, SpongeBob and his pals prove there’s nothing stronger than the power of friendship.

Tim Hill directed the film that also features the voice cast of Tom Kenny, Awkwafina, Clancy Brown, Rodger Bumpass, Bill Fagerbakke, Carolyn Lawrence, Douglas Lawrence and Reggie Watts.

“We are thrilled to have ‘The Spongebob Movie: Spong on the Run,” a premier, first-run movie from one of ViacomCBS’ biggest brands, join CBS All Access’ expanding slate of franchise content from across ViacomCBS,” Marc DeBevoise, chief digital officer, ViacomCBS and president and chief executive officer, ViacomCBS Digital, said in a statement. “This launch will be perfectly timed with our continued expansion and planned rebranding of the service in early 2021, as we welcome SpongeBob and the gang from Bikini Bottom to the service in the biggest way possible.”

“I’m incredibly proud of this film, and the phenomenal cast and filmmaking team that made it happen,” Mireille Soria, president of Paramount Animation, said in a statement. “Bringing this movie to life was a true collaboration and labor of love, and I’m thrilled for audiences to enjoy it as much as we enjoyed making it.”

“We’re happy to give kids and families a much-deserved lift in any way we can, and the PVOD release of the new SpongeBob theatrical and putting all seasons of the TV series on CBS All Access are two of the best ways I can think of to get immersed in the optimism and joy that this terrific character represents,” Ramsey Naito, executive vice president, Nickelodeon Animation Production and Development, said in a statement.

Variety first reported the news.