The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie

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The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie
Film poster showing Patrick Star and SpongeBob SquarePants waving on a car shaped like a sandwich. Below them are various Bikini Bottom residents watching the pair, including Mr. Krabs, Squidward Tentacles, and Sandy Cheeks. In the upper left side of the image is the film title. Below is shown "Hero. Legend. Sponge." above the production details and the theatrical release date.
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Stephen Hillenburg
Produced by Stephen Hillenburg
Julia Pistor
Written by Derek Drymon
Tim Hill
Stephen Hillenburg
Kent Osborne
Aaron Springer
Paul Tibbitt
Based on SpongeBob SquarePants 
by Stephen Hillenburg
Narrated by Tom Kenny
Starring Tom Kenny
Bill Fagerbakke
Clancy Brown
Rodger Bumpass
Mr. Lawrence
Scarlett Johansson
Jeffrey Tambor
Alec Baldwin
David Hasselhoff
Music by Gregor Narholz
Cinematography Jerzy Zielinski
Editing by Lynn Hobson
Studio Nickelodeon Movies
United Plankton Pictures
Distributed by Paramount Pictures
Release dates
  • November 19, 2004 (2004-11-19)
Running time 87 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $30 million[1]
Box office $140,161,792[1]

The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie is a 2004 American traditional animated adventure comedy film based on the Nickelodeon television series, SpongeBob SquarePants. The film was directed and produced by series creator Stephen Hillenburg, with the television cast (Tom Kenny, Bill Fagerbakke, Clancy Brown, Rodger Bumpass and Mr. Lawrence) and guest performances by Scarlett Johansson, Jeffrey Tambor, Alec Baldwin and David Hasselhoff. The film was produced by Nickelodeon Movies in association with Hillenburg's production company, United Plankton Pictures, and was distributed by Paramount Pictures. The plot follows Plankton's plan to steal King Neptune's crown and send it to Shell City; there, SpongeBob and Patrick must retrieve it to save Mr. Krabs' life from Neptune's wrath and their home (Bikini Bottom) from Plankton's plan.

For more than a year Hillenburg had been approached by Paramount Pictures to create a film based on the show, but he refused. When the film went into production, Hillenburg and the show's staff halted production on the series after the third season. A writing team—Hillenburg, Paul Tibbitt, Derek Drymon, Aaron Springer, Kent Osborne and Tim Hill—was assembled, conceiving the idea of a mythical hero's quest: the search for a stolen crown which would bring SpongeBob and Patrick to the surface. The film was originally intended as the series finale; however, Nickelodeon wanted more episodes and Paul Tibbitt assumed Hillenburg's position as showrunner to begin work on a fourth season for broadcast in 2005. During production, Jules Engel, Hillenburg's mentor at the California Institute of the Arts, died; the film was dedicated to his memory.

Tie-in promotions were made by 7-Eleven, the Cayman Islands and Burger King (which decorated some stores with 9-foot (2.7 m) SpongeBob SquarePants inflatable figures). The film was a box-office success (grossing over $140 million), and received mostly-positive reviews. A sequel was announced in 2012, and is planned for release on February 13, 2015.


The film follows the plot of the TV series SpongeBob SquarePants, focusing on the anthropomorphic sea sponge of the same name (Tom Kenny). It begins with a live action sequence of a pirate crew awaiting its treasure: tickets to The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie. When they recover them, they sail to the movie theater and sit in front-row seats to watch the film. In the movie proper, SpongeBob dreams about managing the Krusty Krab restaurant. The restaurant is in trouble because a customer has no cheese on his Krabby Patty, but SpongeBob saves the day. He wakes up and cheerfully prepares for the opening ceremony for Krusty Krab 2, hoping that his boss Mr. Krabs (Clancy Brown) will promote him to manager of the new restaurant. At the ceremony, SpongeBob is passed over; his co-worker, Squidward Tentacles (Rodger Bumpass), is given the promotion because Krabs thinks he is "more mature" than SpongeBob.

Meanwhile, Plankton (Mr. Lawrence), Mr. Krabs' business rival, devises a plot to steal the Krabby Patty secret formula and frame Mr. Krabs. He steals King Neptune's (Jeffrey Tambor) crown at night, sending it to Shell City. That night SpongeBob goes to his favorite restaurant, Goofy Goober; he drowns his sorrows in ice cream with his best friend, Patrick Star (Bill Fagerbakke), waking up the next morning with a headache. King Neptune barges into Krusty Krab 2, assaults and freezes Krabs. When SpongeBob arrives later, although he criticizes Krabs he promises Neptune he will retrieve the crown from Shell City. Neptune tells SpongeBob to return with the crown in six days for him to thaw Krabs. SpongeBob and Patrick leave for Shell City in a car shaped like a Krabby Patty.

SpongeBob and Patrick chased by large green hand on the sea floor
SpongeBob and Patrick, pursued by Shell City's "cyclops" diver

In Bikini Bottom Plankton steals the Krabby Patty formula, selling them at his restaurant (the Chum Bucket) with the claim that Krabs bequeathed him the recipe, and sends a hit man (Alec Baldwin) to pursue SpongeBob and Patrick. Squidward discovers the truth about Plankton stealing Neptune's crown, and tries to alert Neptune. However, Plankton uses mind-controlling buckets disguised as souvenirs to control Bikini Bottom's residents (including Squidward) and renames the city Planktopolis. SpongeBob and Patrick encounter a dangerous trench but Neptune's daughter, Mindy (Scarlett Johansson), helps them past it.

They meet Dennis, the hit man, who tries to crush them with his giant boot but is stepped on himself by a "cyclops" (a diver). The "cyclops" grabs SpongeBob and Patrick, and goes to his store near the beach ("Shell City"). At the store SpongeBob and Patrick find the crown, but are nearly killed in a lethal drying-out process. Their tears short-circuit the heat lamp; its smoke activates the sprinkler system, reviving them and the other dried sea creatures sold as souvenirs. As the sea creatures attack the diver, SpongeBob and Patrick take the crown and head for the beach. When they lose their way home, David Hasselhoff offers them a ride; Dennis catches up to them, but is knocked by a catamaran back into the sea.

Back at Krusty Krab 2, Neptune arrives to execute Mr. Krabs. Just in time, SpongeBob and Patrick return with the crown, save Krabs and confront Plankton. Plankton drops a mind-control bucket on Neptune, enslaving him. SpongeBob plays "Goofy Goober Rock" and frees Bikini Bottom's residents. Plankton is arrested; King Neptune thanks SpongeBob for his bravery and thaws Mr. Krabs, who makes SpongeBob general manager of Krusty Krab 2 in gratitude. In a post-credits scene, a theater usher tells the captain and his pirate crew to leave and they reluctantly comply.




The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie was long planned;[2] Nickelodeon and Paramount Pictures had approached series creator Stephen Hillenburg for a film based on the show, but he refused for more than a year.[3] Hillenburg 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."[3] 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."[3]

I never wanted to do a movie because I didn't think that what we wanted to say needed to be in a movie. I like the short form for animation. Then this story idea came up that lent itself to a longer format. You can't do a road trip adventure in a short form.
Stephen Hillenburg[4]

In 2002, Hillenburg and the show's staff stopped making episodes to work on the film after the show's third season.[4] The film's plot originally had SpongeBob rescue Patrick from a fisherman in Florida;[4] the obvious reference to the 2003 film, Finding Nemo, was later said by Tom Kenny (the voice of SpongeBob) to be a "joke" plot to keep fans busy.[4] 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.[3] Osborne said, "It was hugely fun [...] although it did get kind of gamy in there."[3] 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, both obvious inspirations for SpongeBob.[5] For the film, the writers created a mythical hero's quest: the search for a stolen crown, which brings SpongeBob and Patrick to the surface.[5] Bill Fagerbakke (the voice of Patrick) said about the plot, "It's just nuts. I'm continually dazzled and delighted with what these guys came up with."[6]

When the film was completed Hillenburg wanted to end the series "so the show wouldn't jump the shark"; however, Nickelodeon wanted more episodes.[7] He said, "Well, there was concern when we did the movie [in 2004] that the show had peaked. There were concerns among executives at Nickelodeon."[8][9] Hillenburg resigned as the series' showrunner,[10] appointing Paul Tibbitt (the show's supervising producer, writer, director and storyboard artist) to succeed him.[11] Tibbitt was one of Hillenburg's favorite crew members:[12] "[I] totally trusted him."[13] Tibbitt is still showrunner and an executive producer.[11][14] Hillenburg no longer writes (or runs) the show on a day-to-day basis, but reviews each episode and submits suggestions: "I figure when I'm pretty old I can still paint [...] I don't know about running shows."[10][15] Tom Kenny, Bill Fagerbakke and the crew confirmed that they had completed four episodes for broadcast on Nickelodeon in early 2005,[16][17] and planned to finish a total of about 20 for the fourth season.[16][17]

In September 2003 (during production), Jules Engel (Hillenburg's mentor when he studied experimental animation at the California Institute of the Arts) died.[18] Hillenburg dedicated the film to him: "He truly was the most influential artistic person in my life. I consider him my 'Art Dad.'"[19][20][21]


There were a number of stages involved in the making of the film, beginning with a rough animation process of ideas drawn on Post-it notes.[22] The writers drew, working from rough outlines rather than scripts (which made the humor more visual than verbal).[5] Hillenburg said, "It's in the characters' extreme body language, in how they slither capriciously around the deadpan frames."[5] The storyboard artists, including Sherm Cohen, then illustrated ideas conceived by the writers.[6] In the series Tom Yasumi and Andrew Overtoom do the animatics, but director Hillenburg and writer Derek Drymon did the animatics for the film.[23] Yasumi and Overtoom were the film's animation-timing directors, concentrating on the sheets.[23] The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie was animated at Rough Draft Studios in South Korea.[2] The animators worked semi-digitally; pencil-drawn poses would be composited into layouts in Photoshop.[24]

Series writer and storyboard artist Erik Wiese left the show for a year to work on Samurai Jack and Danny Phantom, but returned to do storyboards and character layout for the film.[7] He "always wanted to be a feature animator, and the movie felt like I was on the character animation end", describing the experience as "a blast—it felt like coming home."[7]

Hillenburg enjoyed the process of making the film:[4] "The TV schedule is tight, and you don't always have a lot of time to work on your drawings."[4] He appreciated the film's hand-drawn animation: "I think the movie's drawings are much superior than the TV show", although CGI animation was flourishing at the time of the film's release.[4] "There's a lot of talk about 2-D being dead, and I hope people don't think that. Even Brad Bird is a proponent of 2-D. He would agree with me that it's all about what you're trying to say. There are many ways to tell a story, and what's unique about animation is that there are many styles with which to tell a story."[4] The clay animation scenes were shot by Mark Caballero, Seamus Walsh and Chris Finnegan at Screen Novelties in Los Angeles.[21]


The film features live-action scenes directed by Mark Osborne in Santa Monica, California.[6][25] The ship used during the 30-second opening featuring the pirates singing the theme was the Bounty,[26][27] a 180-foot (55 m)-long, enlarged reconstruction of the 1787 Royal Navy sailing ship HMS Bounty built for 1962's Mutiny on the Bounty. The ship has appeared in a number of other films, including Treasure Island (1999), Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest (2006) and Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End (2007).[28][29] In film trailers, live-action scenes were taken from Das Boot (1981), The Hunt for Red October (1990) and U-571 (2000).[4]

Man working on oversized replica of a smiling man
The crew built an oversized replica of David Hasselhoff for visual effect.

Baywatch and Knight Rider actor David Hasselhoff made a cameo in the live-action scenes, offering SpongeBob and Patrick a ride to Bikini Bottom.[30] The scene was originally written before consulting Hasselhoff.[16][17] Hillenburg was pleased with the storyboards;[7] Lead storyboard artist Sherm Cohen said, "He had been wrestling with the ending for quite a while, and finally he was ready to pitch his ideas to some of the other board artists."[7] Hillenburg was counting on casting Hasselhoff, and the first question asked him was "So, do we have Hasselhoff?"[7] He replied "No", with a grin.[7] Hasselhoff eventually agreed, before seeing the script.[16][17] Hillenburg said about the actor, "He's a great guy [...] He was great at making fun of himself."[16][17]

The crew built a 750-pound (340 kg), 12-foot (3.7 m) replica of Hasselhoff.[25][30][31] The $100,000 replica was kept at Hasselhoff's home;[32] he said, "It freaked me out because it was so lifelike, with teeth, when you touch it [it] feels like real skin. It's soft, like your skin."[32] At the completion of filming, Hasselhoff said, "That's ridiculously awesome. What are you gonna do with it?"[32] Asked by the crew if he want to keep it, he answered, "Uh, yeah. Okay."[32] Hasselhoff filmed in cold water, where he was pulled by a sled nine yards across the sea;[6][30] he described the experience as "cold but [a] lot of fun."[22]

In late March 2014 Hasselhoff auctioned off the replica with other memorabilia collected during his career. Julien's Auctions will handle the item's sale, and it is expected to bring between $20,000 and $30,000. The auction was scheduled to begin on April 11.[33][34]


The film stars the series' main cast members, Tom Kenny as SpongeBob SquarePants, Bill Fagerbakke as Patrick Star, Rodger Bumpass as Squidward Tentacles, Clancy Brown as Mr. Krabs, Carolyn Lawrence as Sandy Cheeks and Mr. Lawrence as Plankton. It also features Jill Talley as Karen, Mary Jo Catlett as Mrs. Puff, Lori Alan as Pearl, Dee Bradley Baker as Perch Perkins, Carlos Alazraqui as King Neptune's squire and Neil Ross as the Cyclops. In addition to the series' cast, it was reported on March 23, 2004 that Scarlett Johansson, Jeffrey Tambor and Alec Baldwin would play new characters Mindy, King Neptune and Dennis, respectively, and David Hasselhoff would appear as himself.[35][36]

Johansson accepted the role because she likes cartoons and was a fan of The Ren & Stimpy Show.[37] When Jeffrey Tambor signed for his voice cameo, he saw his character (King Neptune) and joked, "This is me."[37] He remembered the first cartoon he saw, Bambi: "My first cartoon, I had to be carried out crying [...] It was Bambi. It's like the great American wound: the death of Bambi's mother. 'Run, Bambi, run!'"[38] Another guest voice was Alec Baldwin;[36] Scarlett Johansson said that the actor recorded his character Dennis on a "phone":[37] "I wouldn't say that about his performance. He might be mad if we said that. Technically, it was like he was in another booth in the studio."[37]

Baywatch and Knight Rider star David Hasselhoff accepted the role when his daughters, Taylor-Ann and Hayley, urged him:[39] "I got an offer to do a cameo in the SpongeBob Movie and I turned to my girls, who were like 16 and 14, and I said, 'Who's SpongeBob?' and they said, 'Oh my God, Dad, it's the number one cartoon in the world, you gotta do it.'"[39] Hasselhoff enjoyed his cameo: "It was great fun and to this day around the world kids stop me and say, 'Are you David Hasselhoff?' because I was the only human in the picture."[39] Hasselhoff said that the film gained him new fans: "It's amazing - so many of the kids were so young and didn't see Baywatch and Knight Rider so I got a whole new legion of fans."[39]


Gregor Narholz composed the score for the film,[40][41][42] conducting the recording sessions (in 5.1 surround sound) with the London Metropolitan Orchestra at Abbey Road Studios in London.[43][44] Narholz was signed when series music editor Nick Carr recommended him to Hillenburg after they worked together at the Associated Production Music library.[7] Narholz was honored at the 2005 ASCAP Film and Television Music Awards for his work on the film,[45] and received a nomination for Music in an Animated Feature Production at the 32nd Annie Awards.[46][47]

Two guitarists (one singing) and a drummer onstage
The Flaming Lips recorded "SpongeBob & Patrick Confront the Psychic Wall of Energy".

American rock band The Flaming Lips recorded "SpongeBob & Patrick Confront the Psychic Wall of Energy".[48][49] They shot the song's music video, directed by band member Wayne Coyne and filmmaker Bradley Beesley, in Austin, Texas.[48] Coyne said, "Stephen [Hillenburg] seems to be a fan of the weirder music of the late '80s and early '90s [...] He wanted to evoke the music he got turned onto back then."[48] Coyne suggested a duet with Justin Timberlake, but Hillenburg refused;[50] according to Coyle, " ... but [Stephen Hillenburg] said, 'I don't want any of those sort of commercial weirdos on there. I don't like those commercial people. I like you guys, and Wilco and Ween.'"[50] American band Wilco wrote and recorded "Just a Kid".[49][51] One of the film's producers contacted frontman Jeff Tweedy after seeing a SpongeBob air freshener hanging from Tweedy's rearview mirror in I Am Trying to Break Your Heart: A Film About Wilco.[51] Tweedy said, "I fell in love with SpongeBob when I heard him describe the darkness at the bottom of the sea as 'advanced darkness' [...] How could I not write a song for this film? It automatically makes me the coolest dad on the block."[51] American singer Avril Lavigne recorded the series' theme for the soundtrack.[52][53][54] Other artists contributing to the soundtrack were Motörhead, singing "You Better Swim" (a derivative of their 1992 song "You'd Better Run");[55][56][57] Prince Paul ("Prince Paul's Bubble Party");[55] Ween ("Ocean Man"),[55] and the Shins ("They'll Soon Discover", partially written in 2001).[58]

"The Best Day Ever", written by Tom Kenny (SpongeBob's voice actor) and Andy Paley, was featured in the film and on its soundtrack. Kenny and Paley were working on what would become the album The Best Day Ever, writing "The Best Day Ever" and "Under My Rock".[59] The film's production team needed two more tracks for the soundtrack;[59] Hillenburg heard the songs, and decided to include them.[59] "The Best Day Ever" ended up being played during the film's closing credits.[59]

Deleted scenes

Sitting squirrel and pencil sketch
Animatic of deleted scene, with SpongeBob and Patrick (right) encountering Sandy Cheeks (left) on the surface

The DVD and Blu-ray release included animatics of deleted scenes from the film, including SpongeBob and Patrick's meeting with Sandy Cheeks (a squirrel) on the surface after their escape from Shell City.[60] Patrick repeatedly vomits, upset by Sandy's unusual appearance.[60] The suirrel is pursued by black-suited exterminators,[60] and defends herself with acorns.[60] She informs SpongeBob and Patrick that they can return to Bikini Bottom by taking a bus at the beach.[60]

When SpongeBob awakens with a hangover on the Goofy Goober party boat, he asks a waiter for a "Double-Fudge Spinny";[60] the rejected line was used in a tie-in book, Ice-Cream Dreams, which was based on the film.[60] In 2013 the film's lead storyboard artist, Sherm Cohen, released a storyboard panel of a deleted scene from the film with SpongeBob awakening from his dream saying "WEEEEE!" and Mr. Krabs holding a manager's hat.[61][62]


Large, Chinese-style building with people in front
The film had its yellow-carpet world premiere at Grauman's Chinese Theatre in Hollywood on November 14, 2004.

The film's trailer was released on May 19, 2004.[63] The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie opened in theaters on November 19, 2004;[64] its yellow-carpet world premiere was at Grauman's Chinese Theatre in Hollywood on November 14, 2004.[65][66][67] Among celebrities who saw the premiere with their children were Ray Romano, Larry King, Ice Cube, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation's Gary Dourdan and Friends' Lisa Kudrow.[68] The carpet was a disturbing reminder of home for Tom Kenny, SpongeBob's voice actor; he said, "I have a 15-month-old daughter, so I'm no stranger to yellow carpets."[68]

The Motion Picture Association of America rated the film "PG" for "some mild crude humor."[69] In the United Kingdom, it was rated "U" for "very mild threat and peril".[70] It was rated "G" by the Australian Classification Board.[71]


Julia Pistor, the film's co-producer, conceded that Nickelodeon want to sell backpacks, lunch boxes and wristwatches that could profitably accommodate the images of the characters, but insisted that Nickelodeon, which owns the SpongeBob trademark, also respected Hillenburg's integrity and gave him control over merchandising.[5] Hillenburg had no problem with candy and ice cream tie-ins, Pistor said, because candy and ice cream were essential to children,[5] but Hillenburg did have issues with fast food tie-ins, which, according to him, was "full of hidden additives."[5] Pistor said "The trouble is that you can't go out with animated films without a fast-food tie-in[...] People don't take you seriously."[5] Hillenburg replied "Yeah, well, my take on that is that we shouldn't do that[...] We didn't want to suddenly become the people serving up food that's not that good for you - especially kids. We work with Burger King, and they make toys and watches. But to actually take the step of pushing the food, that's crossing the line. I don't want to be the Pied Piper of fast food."[5]

Promotions for the film occurred across the United States. Nickelodeon tied-in with Burger King to release a toyline based on the film consisting of 12 different figures.[72] Customers also chose to purchase any of five different watches featuring SpongeBob and his friends for $1.99 with the purchase of any value meal.[72] In 2004, the store chains of Burger King across the United States perched inflatable SpongeBob figures on their rooftops as part of the promotion.[72] It was one of the largest promotion in the history of the quick service restaurant industry, with about 4,700 Burger King restaurants sporting a nine-foot inflatable SpongeBob SquarePants.[72]

On November 11, 2004, it was reported that numbers of the balloons have been stolen from the roofs of Burger Kings across the country authorities said.[72][73] Russ Klein, the Chief Marketing Officer for Burger King, said "As to the motives behind these apparent 'spongenappings', we can only speculate.[72][74] We did receive one ransom note related to an inflatable SpongeBob disappearance in Minnesota."[72][74] As a result, Burger King announced to offer a one-year's supply of Whopper sandwiches as a reward for information leading to the safe return of the missing inflatables.[72][74][75][76] The company said the reward only applies for the balloons that were stolen in November.[75] One of the inflatables was found strapped to a railing at the fifty-yard line at a college in Iowa;[77] another, underneath a bed in Virginia.[77] A third was found missing with a ransom note that read, "We have SpongeBob. Give us 10 Krabby Patties, fries, and milkshakes."[77] Steven Simon and Conrad "C.J." Mercure Jr. were arrested after stealing an inflatable in a Burger King in St. Mary's County, Maryland.[78][79] While facing up to 18 months in jail and a $500 fine, Simon and Mercure said they were proud of what they did.[79][80] Simon said "Once we got caught by the police, we were like, now we can tell everybody."[79][80] That following year, Burger King took "extra security precautions" as Stormtroopers from George Lucas' Star Wars guarded the delivery of Star Wars toys at a Burger King in North Hollywood, California.[81]

The Cayman Islands, a British Overseas Territory located in the western Caribbean Sea, partnered with Nickelodeon to create the first Cayman Islands Sea School with SpongeBob for the film.[82] The partnership was announced by Pilar Bush, Deputy Director of Tourism for Cayman Islands, on March 10, 2004.[82] As part of the agreement, the Cayman partnership was seen across Nickelodeon's global multimedia platforms, including on-air, online and magazines.[82]

In 2005, Nickelodeon, with Simon Spotlight, released a book called Ice-Cream Dreams as a tie-in to the film.[83] The book was written by Nancy E. Krulik and illustrated by Heather Martinez, with Krulik and Derek Drymon serving as contributors.[84][85][86]

SpongeBob SquarePants Movie 300

On October 15, 2004, The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie title sponsored a 300-mile 2004 NASCAR Busch Series race called the SpongeBob SquarePants Movie 300 at the Charlotte Motor Speedway in North Carolina.[87][88][89][90] It was the first race of its kind where children at the track were able to listen a special radio broadcast of the event. The broadcast gave the children opportunity to enjoy listening to live action just like their parents, but in a "kid friendly" manner.[87][90]

Kyle Busch and Jimmie Johnson debuted a pair of SpongeBob SquarePants-themed Lowe's Chevrolet race cars during the SpongeBob SquarePants Movie 300 series race. Johnson's No. 48 Chevrolet included a full image of SpongeBob across the hood, while Busch's No. 5 Chevrolet spotlit the character Patrick Star.[87][90][91] Johnson said "This sounds so cool[...] I know there are a lot of families who will be excited that Lowe's is doing this. The great thing is there will be something for every type of race fan. Plus how can we go wrong with SpongeBob helping us out on the car?"[87][90] The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie in 2004 became the first film to sponsor the name of a race in NASCAR.[92]

Home media

The film was released on DVD on March 1, 2005, in separate widescreen and fullscreen editions from Paramount Home Entertainment.[93] The DVD contains an 18-minute featurette called The Absorbing Tale Behind The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie featuring interviews with most of the principal cast and crew, a 15-minute featurette called Case of the Sponge "Bob" hosted by Jean-Michel Cousteau, 20-minute animatics showcasing the entire scenes from the film complete with dialogue from the original artists, and the trailer for the film.[93] The film was later released on Blu-ray + DVD combo pack on March 29, 2011.[94] A VHS version was also released on March 1, 2005, and was the final animated film from Nickelodeon Movies to be issued on VHS.[95]

As a tie-in beverage for the DVD release of the film, 7-Eleven convenience stores released a limited edition Slurpee beverage called "Under-the-Sea Pineapple Slurpee" in March 2005.[96][97][98]


Box office

The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie earned $9,559,752 on its opening day in the United States making it at No. 2 behind Disney's National Treasure with $11 million.[99][100] It grossed a combined total of $32,018,216 in its opening weekend on 4,300 screens at 3,212 theaters, averaging about $9,968 per venue or an average of $7,446 per screen,[101] and reaching the No. 2 spot behind National Treasure of the box office for that weekend.[101][102][103][104] However, the film then dropped a larger than expected 44% over the Thanksgiving weekend, then dropped 57% the next weekend.[105][106][107] The opening weekend would end up making up 37.48% of the film's final gross.[105] The film closed on March 24, 2005, having been unsuccessful at outgrossing its holiday animated competitors, The Incredibles from Disney/Pixar ($261,441,092), and The Polar Express from Warner Bros. ($183,373,735). It still made a huge profit for both distributor Paramount Pictures and producer Nickelodeon Movies, having earned $85,417,988 in the United States and $140,161,792 worldwide, while being produced on a modest $30 million budget.[1] The film is the 29th highest-grossing film of 2004 domestically[108] and 4th highest-grossing animated TV adaptation of all time.[109]

Critical reception

The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie received mostly positive reviews from media critics and fans. Review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes reports that, out of a total of 125 reviews, 68% were positive, with and average score of 6.2/10.[110] 68% is also an aggregate rating for the selected top critics based on 36 reviews.[111] The site's consensus considers the film to be "Surreally goofy and entertaining for both children and their parents."[110] Metacritic reports an aggregate score of 66 out of 100 based on 32 reviews, indicating "Generally favorable reviews".[112]

"All of this happens in jolly animation with bright colors and is ever so much more entertaining than you are probably imagining. No doubt right now you're asking yourself why you have read this far in the review, given the near-certainty that you will not be going anywhere near a SpongeBob SquarePants movie, unless you are the parent or adult guardian of a SpongeBob SquarePants fan, in which case your fate is sealed. Assuming that few members of SpongeBob's primary audience are reading this (or can read), all I can tell you is, the movie is likely to be more fun than you expect."

Roger Ebert in his review for the Chicago Sun-Times.[113]

Roger Ebert positively responded to the film and gave it 3 out of 4 stars calling it "the 'Good Burger' of animation" whereas "plopping us down inside a fast-food war being fought by sponges, starfish, crabs, tiny plankton and mighty King Neptune."[113] Ed Park of The Village Voice enjoyed it and wrote, "No Pixar? No problem! An unstoppable good-mood generator, the resolutely 2-D [The] SpongeBob SquarePants Movie has more yuks than Shark Tale and enough soul to swallow The Polar Express whole.[114] Michael Rechtshaffen of The Hollywood Reporter gave the film a positive reaction, calling it "an animated adventure that's funnier than Shark Tale and more charming than The Polar Express."[115] Randy Cordova of The Arizona Republic also gave it positive feedback, saying "like the TV show it's based on, it's a daffy, enjoyable creation."[116] Jami Bernard of the New York Daily News gave the feature a score of 3/4, saying that "it's not The Incredibles, or one of those animated features that spent zillions on character design, pedigree and verisimilitude. But SpongeBob is a sweet, silly thing with a child-friendly esthetic all its own."[117] Will Lawrence of Empire gave this film 4 out of 5 stars and wrote "a film for kids, students, stoners, anyone who enjoys a break from reality."[118] Lisa Schwarzbaum of Entertainment Weekly gave it a B- grade saying, "The best moments in his [SpongeBob SquarePants] first movie outing are those that feel most TV-like, just another day in the eternally optimistic undersea society created with such contagious silliness by Stephen Hillenburg."[119] Desson Thomson, also from The Washington Post, enjoyed the film, writing, "YOU GOTTA LOVE SpongeBob. Coolest sponge in the sea, although this one has a suspiciously manufactured look."[120]

Carla Meyer of San Francisco Chronicle opined that "The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie retains the 2-D charm of the hugely popular Nickelodeon cartoon but adds a few tricks – a little 3-D here, a little David Hasselhoff there. The series' appeal never lay in its visuals, however. "SpongeBob" endeared itself to kids and adults through sweetness and cleverness, also abundant here."[121] A. O. Scott of The New York Times gave it a score of 4/5, writing, "If you're tired of their bluster and swagger, SpongeBob is your man."[122] Tom Maurstad of The Dallas Morning News said gave the film a "B-" grade, writing "Being so good is what led to making the movie, and it's also the reason that many small-screen episodes are better than this big-screen venture."[123]

Some of the reviews were also positive towards David Hasselhoff's appearance in the film. Jennifer Frey of The Washington Post wrote that "getting to see the hairs on Hasselhoff's back (and thighs, and calves) magnified exponentially is perhaps a bit creepy. Like the movie, it's all in good fun."[124] Nancy Basile of, who awarded the film 4/5 stars, opined that Hasselhoff, "must have a great sense of humor."[125] Cinema Blend founder Joshua Tyler noted Hasselhoff's role as "the best movie cameo I've seen since Fred Savage stuck a joint in his crotch and played a clarinet to charm the resulting smoke like a snake."[126]

"There's plenty to treasure in The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie, but for all the spit-and-polish animation and the rollicking soundtrack (which includes an original song by the Flaming Lips, as well as Ween's gorgeous "Ocean Man," from their Mollusk album), this isn't the yellow one's most thrilling hour—or 80 minutes."

David Edelstein in his review for Slate.[127]

On the negative side, David Edelstein of Slate criticized the film's plot, saying that it was a "big, heavy anchor of a story structure to weigh him down."[127] Mike Clark of the USA Today called it "Harmlessly off-the-cuff — but facing far more pedigreed multiplex competition," writing "SpongeBob barely rates as OK when compared with The Incredibles."[128] A reviewer writing for Time Out London noted that "anyone expecting anything more risky will be sadly disappointed."[129] In his review for Variety, Todd McCarthy said the film "takes on rather too much water during its extended feature-length submersion."[130] David N. Butterworth, staff member of the Internet Movie Database, gave it no stars out of four, saying, "For much like fish, The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie truly stinks."[131]

While the film itself was generally well received by fans of the show, it is also considered a turning point in the show's history, as many of said fans believe the television series has declined in quality since the film's release.[132] While episodes aired before the film were praised for their "uncanny brilliance",[133] ones aired after the film have been variously categorized as "kid-pandering attention-waster[s]",[134] "tedious",[135] "boring" and "dreck",[136] a "depressing plateau of mediocrity",[137] and "laugh-skimpy."[138] Following the film's release, fans also "began to turn away from the show," causing online fansites to "bec[ome] deserted."[132] Some believe the show's ratings decline as of 2012 correlates with the alleged decline in quality, and "whatever fan support [the show] enjoys is not enough" to save it from its ratings slide.[132]


List of awards and nominations received by The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie
Year Award Category Nominee(s) Result Ref(s).
2005 Annie Awards Best Animated Feature Nominated [46]
2005 Directing in an Animated Feature Production Stephen Hillenburg Nominated [46]
2005 Music in an Animated Feature Production Gregor Narholz Nominated [46]
2005 ASCAP Film and Television Music Awards Top Box Office Films Gregor Narholz Won [139]
2005 Australian Kids' Choice Awards Fave Movie Won [140][141]
2005 Fave Video Game The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie video game Won [140][141]
2005 Golden Satellite Awards Best Animated or Mixed Media Feature Nominated [142]
2005 Golden Trailer Awards Best Animation (Family) Nominated [143]
2005 Most Original Nominated [143]
2006 MTV Russia Movie Awards Best Cartoon Nominated [144]
2005 People's Choice Awards Favorite Animated Movie Nominated [145]
2005 Young Artist Awards Best Family Feature Film – Animation Nominated [146]

Video game

A video game of the same name based on the film was released for PlayStation 2,[147] PC,[148] Game Boy Advance,[149] Xbox[150] and GameCube on October 27, 2004.[151] It was also released for Mac OS X in 2005,[152] and PlayStation 3 on February 7, 2012.[153] The home console version was developed by Heavy Iron Studios,[154] while the Game Boy Advance was developed by WayForward Technologies,[149] and was published by THQ.[155][156]

It was created on the same engine as SpongeBob SquarePants: Battle for Bikini Bottom. Heavy Iron Studios, the game's developers, tweaked the graphics to give the game a look sharper and more imaginative look than that of Battle for Bikini Bottom. They also increased the polygon count, added several racing levels, and incorporated many of the creatures seen in the film.[154] The game's plot was entirely based on the film with SpongeBob and Patrick off on a mission that takes them outside Bikini Bottom to retrieve Neptune's crown.[157] On October 4, 2004, THQ announced to release the game in mobile.[158] Paul Jelinek, the vice president of New Media Business Development for Nickelodeon, said "As one of the leading publishers of wireless entertainment content, THQ Wireless is introducing the SpongeBob SquarePants license to a whole new audience of gamers [...] THQ has been a great partner to Nickelodeon over the years and we look forward to the same standard of excellence with these upcoming SpongeBob SquarePants games for wireless devices."[158] The mobile console was developed by Amplified Games.[159]


On February 28, 2012, a sequel was announced to be in production, with a projected release date of late 2014.[160][161][162] It will be directed by Paul Tibbitt, written by Jonathan Aibel and Glenn Berger, and executive produced by Stephen Hillenburg.[163] On August 1, 2013, Paramount scheduled to release the film on February 13, 2015.[164][165][166]


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External links