The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie

"The SpongeBob Movie" redirects here. For the 2015 sequel, see The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water.

The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie

Film poster showing SpongeBob SquarePants (right) and Patrick Star (left) 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 the tagline is shown reading "Hero. Legend. Sponge." above the production details and the theatrical release date.

Theatrical release poster
Directed by Stephen Hillenburg[1]
Produced by
  • Stephen Hillenburg
  • Julia Pistor
Written by
Based on SpongeBob SquarePants
by Stephen Hillenburg
Music by Gregor Narholz
Cinematography Jerzy Zielinski
Edited by Lynn Hobson
Distributed by Paramount Pictures
Release dates
Running time
88 minutes[2]
Country United States
Language English
Budget $30 million[3]
Box office $140.2 million[3]

The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie is a 2004 American traditionally animated comedy film based on the Nickelodeon television series of the same name. The film was directed by series creator Stephen Hillenburg and starred the series' cast of Tom Kenny, Bill Fagerbakke, Clancy Brown, Rodger Bumpass and Mr. Lawrence, with guest performances by Scarlett Johansson, Jeffrey Tambor, Alec Baldwin and David Hasselhoff. It was produced by Hillenburg's production company United Plankton Pictures and Nickelodeon Movies and was distributed by Paramount Pictures. In the film, Plankton devises a plan to steal King Neptune's crown and send it to Shell City, and SpongeBob and Patrick must retrieve the crown to save Mr. Krabs from King Neptune's wrath and Bikini Bottom from Plankton's plan.

Previous offers by Paramount Pictures for a film adaptation of SpongeBob SquarePants had been rejected by Stephen Hillenburg, but he eventually accepted one offer in 2002. A writing team consisting of Hillenburg, Paul Tibbitt, Derek Drymon, Aaron Springer, Kent Osborne and Tim Hill was assembled, conceiving the idea of a mythical hero's quest and the search for a stolen crown, which would bring SpongeBob and Patrick to the surface. The film was originally intended as the series finale, but Nickelodeon ordered more episodes of the series after the film's success, so Hillenburg resigned as Showrunner, with Tibbitt taking Hillenburg's Place.

The film was promoted immensely by Paramount and Nickelodeon, with tie-in promotions made by 7-Eleven, the Cayman Islands and Burger King, which decorated various of its franchises with 9-foot (2.7 m) SpongeBob inflatable figures. The film was a box office success and grossed $85 million in the United States and $140 million worldwide,[4] and received generally positive reviews from critics. A stand-alone sequel titled The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water was released on February 6, 2015, and a second sequel is speculated to be released in 2019.


A group of pirates find tickets to watch The SpongeBob Movie in a treasure chest and enthusiastically sing the SpongeBob SquarePants theme song, enter a movie theater, raid it and sit down to watch the movie.

The film opens with SpongeBob dreaming about managing the Krusty Krab restaurant, which one day has a crisis involving a customer having no cheese on his Krabby Patty. SpongeBob arrives and saves the day, and he wakes up and cheerfully prepares for the opening ceremony for The Krusty Krab 2, expecting boss Mr. Krabs to promote him to manager of the new restaurant built next door to the original Krusty Krab. At the ceremony, however, Krabs passes him over in favor of Squidward Tentacles, believing SpongeBob simply isn't mature enough to handle the role.

Plankton, Mr. Krabs' business rival, devises a plot to steal the Krabby Patty secret formula and frame Krabs. He steals King Neptune's crown that night, leaving evidence that pins the crime on Mr. Krabs, and sends the crown to Shell City, a distant, mysterious land from which no fish has returned. That night, SpongeBob goes to his favorite restaurant, Goofy Goober's, where drowns his sorrows in ice cream with his best friend, Patrick Star, waking up the next morning with a headache. Meanwhile, King Neptune barges into the Krusty Krab 2 and threatens Mr. Krabs for his alleged thievery. SpongeBob later arrives and chastises Krabs, but, when seeing his boss's life is at risk, promises Neptune that he will retrieve the crown from Shell City. Neptune freezes Krabs and orders SpongeBob to return with the crown in six days for him to spare Krabs's life. Mindy gives Spongebob a Bag of Winds so that they can leave Shell City once they found the crown. SpongeBob and Patrick leave for Shell City in the Patty Wagon, a car shaped like a Krabby Patty.

In Bikini Bottom, Plankton steals the Krabby Patty formula and uses it to produce and sell Krabby Patties at his restaurant, the Chum Bucket, with the claim that Krabs bequeathed him the recipe. He sends a hitman named Dennis to eliminate SpongeBob and Patrick. Squidward discovers the truth about Plankton stealing Neptune's crown and tries to alert Neptune. However, Plankton uses mind-controlling bucket helmets disguised as souvenirs to control Bikini Bottom's residents, including Squidward, and renames the city Planktopolis.

Meanwhile, SpongeBob and Patrick encounter a dangerous trench, but King Neptune's daughter Princess Mindy helps them past it by making them think she can make them into men. They are stopped by Dennis, who tries to crush them with his spiked boots, but he is in turn stepped on by a seemingly massive hardhat diver known as the "Cyclops". The "Cyclops" grabs SpongeBob and Patrick, and takes them to his beachside store, revealed to be Shell City. At the store, SpongeBob and Patrick find the crown, but are nearly killed in a lethal drying-out process with the heat lamp turned on. Their tears short-circuit the heat lamp, and its smoke activates the sprinkler system, reviving their bodies and the other dried sea creatures intended to be sold as souvenirs. As the sea creatures attack the diver, SpongeBob and Patrick take the crown and head for the beach. Patrick stupidly loses the Bag of Winds when he follows the instructions Spongebob read before they started, but David Hasselhoff offers them a ride; Dennis catches up to them but is knocked by a catamaran back into the sea.

Back at the Krusty Krab 2, King Neptune arrives to execute Mr. Krabs. Just in time, SpongeBob and Patrick return with the crown and confront Plankton, who then drops a mind-control bucket on Neptune, enslaving him. SpongeBob performs the song "Goofy Goober Rock", and after transforming into an electric guitar-wielding wizard, he frees Neptune and Bikini Bottom's residents for the duration of the song. Plankton is arrested, and King Neptune thanks SpongeBob for his bravery and thaws Mr. Krabs, who makes SpongeBob manager of the Krusty Krab 2 in gratitude.

A post-credits scene shows the theater usher telling the pirates to leave the theater so she can clean up the mess they left, to which they reluctantly agree do so.




The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie was long-planned;[5] 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.[6] 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."[6] 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."[6]

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[7]

In 2002, Hillenburg and the show's staff stopped making episodes to work on the film after the show's third season.[7] The film's plot originally had SpongeBob rescue Patrick from a fisherman in Florida;[7] an obvious reference to the 2003 film, Finding Nemo, this was later said by Tom Kenny (the voice of SpongeBob) to be a "joke" plot to keep fans busy.[7] 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.[6] Osborne said, "It was hugely fun [...] although it did get kind of gamy in there."[6] 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.[8] 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.[8] 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."[9]

When the film was completed, Hillenburg wanted to end the series "so [it] wouldn't jump the shark". However, Nickelodeon desired more episodes;[10] 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."[11][12] As a result, Hillenburg resigned as the series' showrunner,[13] appointing supervising producer, writer, director, and storyboard artist Paul Tibbitt to succeed him.[14] Tibbitt was one of Hillenburg's favorite crew members:[15] "[I] totally trusted him."[16] Tibbitt would remain showrunner until he was succeeded in 2015 by the show's creative director Vincent Waller and staff writer Marc Ceccarelli. He has also acted as an executive producer since 2008.[14][17] Hillenburg no longer writes or runs the show on a day-to-day basis, but reviews each episode and submitted suggestions: "I figure when I'm pretty old I can still paint [...] I don't know about running shows."[13][18] Tom Kenny, Bill Fagerbakke and the crew confirmed that they had completed four episodes for broadcast on Nickelodeon in early 2005,[19][20] and planned to finish a total of about 20 for the fourth season.[19][20] 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.[21][22]

In September 2003, Jules Engel, Hillenburg's mentor when he studied experimental animation at the California Institute of the Arts, died.[23] Hillenburg dedicated the film to him: "He truly was the most influential artistic person in my life. I consider him my 'Art Dad.'"[24][25][26]


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.[27] The writers drew, working from rough outlines rather than scripts (which made the humor more visual than verbal).[8] Hillenburg said, "It's in the characters' extreme body language, in how they slither capriciously around the deadpan frames."[8] The storyboard artists, including Sherm Cohen, then illustrated ideas conceived by the writers.[9] In the series Tom Yasumi and Andrew Overtoom do the animatics, but director Hillenburg and writer Derek Drymon did the animatics for the film.[28] Yasumi and Overtoom were the film's animation-timing directors, concentrating on the sheets.[28] The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie was animated at Rough Draft Studios in South Korea.[5] The animators worked semi-digitally; pencil-drawn poses would be composited into layouts in Photoshop.[29]

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.[10] 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."[10]

Hillenburg enjoyed the process of making the film:[7] "The TV schedule is tight, and you don't always have a lot of time to work on your drawings."[7] 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.[7] "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."[7] The clay animation scenes were shot by Mark Caballero, Seamus Walsh and Chris Finnegan at Screen Novelties in Los Angeles.[26]


The film features live-action scenes directed by Mark Osborne in Santa Monica, California.[9][30] The ship used during the 30-second opening featuring the pirates singing the theme was the Bounty,[31][32] 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).[33][34] In film trailers, live-action scenes were taken from Das Boot (1981), The Hunt for Red October (1990) and U-571 (2000).[7]

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.[35] The scene was originally written before consulting Hasselhoff.[19][20] Hillenburg was pleased with the storyboards;[10] 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."[10] Hillenburg was counting on casting Hasselhoff, and the first question asked him was "So, do we have Hasselhoff?"[10] He replied "No", with a grin.[10] Hasselhoff eventually agreed, before seeing the script.[19][20] Hillenburg said about the actor, "He's a great guy [...] He was great at making fun of himself."[19][20]

The crew built a 750-pound (340 kg), 12-foot (3.7 m) replica of Hasselhoff.[30][35][36] The $100,000 replica was kept at Hasselhoff's home;[37] he has 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."[37] At the completion of filming, Hasselhoff said, "That's ridiculously awesome. What are you gonna do with it?"[37] Asked by the crew if he wanted to keep it, he answered, "Uh, yeah. Okay."[37] Hasselhoff filmed in cold water, where he was pulled by a sled nine yards across the sea;[9][35] he described the experience as "cold but [a] lot of fun."[27]

In late March 2014, Hasselhoff auctioned off the replica with other memorabilia collected during his career. Julien's Auctions handled the item's sale, which were expected to bring in between $20,000 and $30,000. The auction was scheduled to begin on April 11.[38][39]


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, Aaron Hendry as the Cyclops and Neil Ross as the voice of 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 princess Mindy, King Neptune and Dennis, respectively, and David Hasselhoff would appear as himself.[40][41]

Johansson accepted the role because she likes cartoons and was a fan of The Ren & Stimpy Show.[42] When Jeffrey Tambor signed for his voice cameo, he saw his character (King Neptune) and joked, "This is me."[42] 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!'"[43] Another guest voice was Alec Baldwin;[41] Stephen Hillenburg said that the actor recorded his character Dennis on a "phone":[42] "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."[42]

Baywatch and Knight Rider star David Hasselhoff accepted the role when his daughters, Taylor-Ann and Hayley, urged him:[44] "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.'"[44] 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."[44] 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."[44]


Gregor Narholz composed the score for the film,[45][46][47] conducting the recording sessions (in 5.1 surround sound) with the London Metropolitan Orchestra at Abbey Road Studios in London.[48][49] Narholz was signed when series music editor Nick Carr recommended him to Hillenburg after they worked together at the Associated Production Music library.[10] Narholz was honored at the 2005 ASCAP Film and Television Music Awards for his work on the film,[50] and received a nomination for Music in an Animated Feature Production at the 32nd Annie Awards.[51][52]

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".[53][54] They shot the song's music video, directed by band member Wayne Coyne and filmmaker Bradley Beesley, in Austin, Texas.[53] 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."[53] Coyne suggested a duet with Justin Timberlake, but Hillenburg refused,[55] saying "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."[55] American band Wilco wrote and recorded "Just a Kid".[54][56] 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.[56] 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."[56] Avril Lavigne recorded the series' theme for the soundtrack.[57][58][59] Other artists contributing to the soundtrack were Motörhead, singing "You Better Swim" (a derivative of their 1992 song "You'd Better Run");[60][61][62] Prince Paul ("Prince Paul's Bubble Party");[60] Ween ("Ocean Man"),[60] and the Shins ("They'll Soon Discover", partially written in 2001).[63]

"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".[64] The film's production team needed two more tracks for the soundtrack;[64] Hillenburg heard the songs, and decided to include them.[64] "The Best Day Ever" ended up being played during the film's closing credits.[64]

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 releases include 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.[65] Patrick repeatedly vomits, upset by Sandy's unusual appearance.[65] The squirrel is pursued by black-suited exterminators,[65] and defends herself with acorns.[65] She informs SpongeBob and Patrick that they can return to Bikini Bottom by taking a bus at the beach.[65]

When SpongeBob awakens with a hangover on the Goofy Goober party boat, he asks a waiter for a "Double-Fudge Spinny";[65] the rejected line was used in a tie-in book, Ice-Cream Dreams, which was based on the film.[65] 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.[66][67]


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, and was attached to Shrek 2.[68] The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie opened in theaters on November 19, 2004;[69] its yellow-carpet world premiere was at Grauman's Chinese Theatre in Hollywood on November 14, 2004.[70][71][72] 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.[73] 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."[73]


Julia Pistor, the film's co-producer, said that although Nickelodeon (which owns the SpongeBob trademark) wanted to sell character-themed backpacks, lunch boxes and wristwatches it respected Hillenburg's integrity and gave him control of merchandising.[8] Hillenburg had no problem with candy and ice cream tie-ins, Pistor said (because of the treats' simplicity),[8] but he had issues with fast food tie-ins; according to him, the latter was "full of hidden additives."[8] 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."[8] 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."[8]

The film was promoted across the United States. Nickelodeon joined Burger King for a 12-figure toy line based on the film, and about 4,700 Burger King stores perched 9-foot (2.7 m), inflatable SpongeBob figures on their roofs as part of the promotion (one of the largest in fast-food history).[74] Customers could also purchase one of five different SpongeBob-themed watches for $1.99 with the purchase of a value meal.[74]

On November 11, 2004, it was reported that a number of the inflatables had been stolen from Burger King roofs nationwide.[74][75] Burger King chief marketing officer Russ Klein said, "As to the motives behind these apparent 'spongenappings', we can only speculate.[74][76] We did receive one ransom note related to an inflatable SpongeBob disappearance in Minnesota."[74][76] The chain offered a year's supply of Whopper sandwiches as a reward for information leading to the return of inflatables stolen in November.[74][76][77][78] One was found attached to a railing at the football-field 50-yard line at an Iowa college,[79] and another under a bed in Virginia.[79] A ransom note was found for a third: "We have SpongeBob. Give us 10 Krabby Patties, fries, and milkshakes."[79] Steven Simon and Conrad (C.J.) Mercure Jr. were arrested after stealing an inflatable from a Burger King in St. Mary's County, Maryland.[80][81] While facing up to 18 months in jail and a $500 fine, Simon and Mercure said they were proud of what they did;[81][82] Simon said, "Once we got caught by the police, we were like, now we can tell everybody."[81][82] The following year Burger King took "extra security precautions", when Stormtroopers from George Lucas' Star Wars guarded the delivery of Star Wars toys to a Burger King in North Hollywood.[83]

The Cayman Islands, a British Overseas Territory in the western Caribbean Sea, joined with Nickelodeon to create the first Cayman Islands Sea School with SpongeBob for the film.[84] The partnership was announced by Pilar Bush, Deputy Director of Tourism for Cayman Islands, on March 10, 2004.[84] As part of the agreement the Cayman partnership was seen on Nickelodeon's global multimedia platforms, including on-air, online and in magazines.[84]

In 2005, Nickelodeon and Simon Spotlight released a book, Ice-Cream Dreams, as a tie-in to the film.[85] It was written by Nancy E. Krulik and illustrated by Heather Martinez, with Krulik and Derek Drymon as contributors.[86][87][88]

SpongeBob SquarePants Movie 300

On October 15, 2004, the film was the first to sponsor a NASCAR race: the 300-mile (480 km), Busch Series SpongeBob SquarePants Movie 300 at Charlotte Motor Speedway in North Carolina.[89][90][91][92][93] It was the first race of its kind where children at the track could listen to a special, "kid-friendly" radio broadcast of the event.[89][92]

Kyle Busch and Jimmie Johnson debuted a pair of SpongeBob SquarePants-themed Lowe's Chevrolet race cars in the race. Johnson's No. 48 Chevrolet included an image of SpongeBob across the hood, and Busch's No. 5 Chevrolet featured Patrick Star.[89][92][94] 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?"[89][92]

Home media

The film was released on DVD on March 1, 2005, in wide- and full-screen editions, by Paramount Home Entertainment.[95] It contains an 18-minute featurette, The Absorbing Tale Behind The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie, featuring interviews with most of the principal cast and crew; a 15-minute featurette, Case of the Sponge "Bob", hosted by Jean-Michel Cousteau; a 20-minute animatic segment featuring scenes from the film with dialogue by the original artists, and the film's trailer.[95] The film was released as a Blu-ray-plus-DVD combination pack on March 29, 2011.[96] A VHS version was released on March 1, 2005; it was the final VHS animated film from Nickelodeon Movies.[97] As a tie-in to the film's DVD release, 7-Eleven served a limited-edition Under-the-Sea Pineapple Slurpee in March 2005.[98][99][100]

It was re-released on Blu-ray on December 30, 2014.[101]


Box office

The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie earned $9,559,752 on its opening day in the United States, second behind Disney's National Treasure (which earned $11 million).[102][103] It grossed a combined total of $32,018,216 during its opening weekend, on 4,300 screens at 3,212 theaters, averaging $9,968 per venue (or $7,446 per screen,[104] again second to National Treasure).[104][105][106][107] The film dropped an unexpected 44 percent over the Thanksgiving weekend, and 57 percent the weekend after that.[108][109][110] The opening weekend earned 37.48 percent of the film's final gross.[108] It closed on March 24, 2005, failing to out-gross holiday animated competitors The Incredibles (from Disney-Pixar, grossing $261,441,092) and The Polar Express (Warner Bros., grossing $183,373,735). It was still profitable for distributor Paramount Pictures and producer Nickelodeon Movies, earning $85,417,988 in the United States and $140,161,792 worldwide on a budget of $30 million.[3] The film was the 29th-highest-grossing 2004 film domestically[111] and is the sixth-highest-grossing animated TV adaptation of all time.[112]

Critical reception

On Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds a rating of 68%, based on 125 reviews, with an average score of 6.2/10. The site's consensus reads, "Surreally goofy and entertaining for both children and their parents."[113] Metacritic gave the film a score of 66 out of 100, based on 32 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[114] According to CinemaScore, audiences gave the film a grade of "B+" on an A+ to F scale.[115]

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[116]

Roger Ebert gave the film three out of four stars, calling it "the 'Good Burger' of animation ... plopping us down inside a fast-food war being fought by sponges, starfish, crabs, tiny plankton and mighty King Neptune."[116] Ed Park of The Village Voice 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."[117] Michael Rechtshaffen of The Hollywood Reporter gave the film a positive review, calling it "an animated adventure that's funnier than Shark Tale and more charming than The Polar Express."[118] Randy Cordova of The Arizona Republic said, "Like the TV show it's based on, it's a daffy, enjoyable creation."[119] Jami Bernard of the New York Daily News gave the feature a score of three out of four: "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."[120] Will Lawrence of Empire gave the film four out of five stars, calling it "a film for kids, students, stoners, anyone who enjoys a break from reality."[121] Lisa Schwarzbaum of Entertainment Weekly gave it a B-minus grade: "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."[122] Desson Thomson of The Washington Post enjoyed the film: "You gotta love SpongeBob. Coolest sponge in the sea, although this one has a suspiciously manufactured look."[123]

Carla Meyer of the San Francisco Chronicle wrote 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."[124] A. O. Scott of The New York Times gave it a score of four out of five: "If you're tired of ... bluster and swagger, SpongeBob is your man."[125] Tom Maurstad of The Dallas Morning News also gave the film a B-minus grade: "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."[126]

Some reviews praised David Hasselhoff's appearance in the film. Jennifer Frey of The Washington Post wrote, "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."[127] Nancy Basile of, who gave the film four out of five stars, wrote that Hasselhoff "must have a great sense of humor."[128] Cinema Blend founder Joshua Tyler called Hasselhoff's role "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."[129]

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 Slate review[130]

David Edelstein of Slate criticized the film's plot, calling it a "big, heavy anchor of a story structure to weigh him down."[130] Mike Clark of USA Today called it "harmlessly off-the-cuff — but facing far more pedigreed multiplex competition ... SpongeBob barely rates as OK when compared with The Incredibles."[131] A reviewer noted in Time Out London, "Anyone expecting anything more risky will be sadly disappointed."[132] In his Variety review, Todd McCarthy said the film "takes on rather too much water during its extended feature-length submersion."[133] Internet Movie Database staff member David N. Butterworth gave it zero stars, saying that "For much like fish, The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie truly stinks."[134]

While the film was generally well received by fans of the show, it is considered a turning point in the show's history; many fans believe that the television series has declined in quality since the film's release.[135] While episodes aired before the film were praised for their "uncanny brilliance",[136] those aired after the film have been called "kid-pandering attention-waster[s]",[137] "tedious",[138] "boring", "dreck",[139] a "depressing plateau of mediocrity"[140] and "laugh-skimpy."[141] After the film's release, fans "began to turn away from the show," causing fansites to "bec[ome] deserted."[135] Some fans believe that the show's 2012 ratings decline correlates with a decline in quality, and "whatever fan support [the show] enjoys is not enough" to save it from its slide in ratings.[135]


Year Award Category Nominee(s) Result Ref(s).
2005 Annie Awards Best Animated Feature Nominated [51]
2005 Directing in an Animated Feature Production Stephen Hillenburg Nominated [51]
2005 Music in an Animated Feature Production Gregor Narholz Nominated [51]
2005 ASCAP Film and Television Music Awards Top Box Office Films Gregor Narholz Won [142]
2005 Australian Kids' Choice Awards Fave Movie Won [143][144]
2005 Fave Video Game The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie video game Won [143][144]
2005 Golden Satellite Awards Best Animated or Mixed Media Feature Nominated [145]
2005 Golden Trailer Awards Best Animation (Family) Nominated [146]
2005 Most Original Nominated [146]
2006 MTV Russia Movie Awards Best Cartoon Nominated [147]
2005 People's Choice Awards Favorite Animated Movie Nominated [148]
2005 Young Artist Awards Best Family Feature Film – Animation Nominated [149]

Video game

A video game based on the film was released for PlayStation 2[150] PC,[151] Game Boy Advance,[152] Xbox[153] and GameCube on October 27, 2004[154] for Mac OS X in 2005[155] and PlayStation 3 on February 7, 2012.[156] The home-console version was developed by Heavy Iron Studios;[157] the Game Boy Advance version was developed by WayForward Technologies[152] and published by THQ.[158][159]

It was created on the same engine as SpongeBob SquarePants: Battle for Bikini Bottom. Game developer Heavy Iron Studios tweaked the graphics to give the game a sharper and more-imaginative look than Battle for Bikini Bottom. It increased the polygon count, added several racing levels and incorporated many creatures from the film.[157] The game's plot was based on the film, with SpongeBob and Patrick on a mission taking them outside Bikini Bottom to retrieve Neptune's crown.[160] On October 4, 2004, THQ announced the game's mobile release.[161] Nickelodeon vice-president for new-media business development Paul Jelinek 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."[161] The mobile console was developed by Amplified Games.[162]


On February 28, 2012, the production of a sequel was announced; it would be directed by Paul Tibbitt, written by Jonathan Aibel and Glenn Berger and produced by Stephen Hillenburg[163] for a late-2014 release.[164][165][166] On August 1, 2013, Paramount changed the sequel's release date to February 13, 2015.[167][168][169] It was announced in early June 2014 that the film would instead be released on February 6, 2015, to avoid competition with Universal Pictures' Fifty Shades of Grey, which was set for a February 13, 2015 release.[170] A third film has been announced and has a release date of February 8, 2019.[171]


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