Thursday, May 07, 2020

Bob Bakish Warns That 'The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run' Could Be Delayed Even Further

The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run, which is the next movie on Paramount’s calendar, may not actually hit theaters on August 7 as is currently planned, ViacomCBS CEO Bob Bakish said Thursday (May 7).

“It’s too far out to call if that’s definitely going to be released or it’s definitely not going to be released,” Bakish said on an investors call following the company’s first-quarter 2020 earnings report. “We hope it will release, but we will continue to look at and make the right decision in terms of the return on those assets because we’ve got great films.”

The news comes as the movie has already been delayed twice due to the global COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic. The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run was originally slated for release on Friday, May 22 during Memorial Day weekend, and was going to be the culmination of Nickelodeon's "Best Year Ever" commemoration celebrating SpongeBob SquarePants' 20th anniversary. That release date was then pushed to Friday, July 31, then Friday, August 7, 2020.

Although the movie may be delayed once again, Nickelodeon has been rolling out consumer products and promotions for the movie, including publishing, toys and sweepstakes.

Bakish also addressed the decision to postpone the theatrical release of Paramount’s movies given the uncertainty around the coronavirus and whether people will have the appetite to return to movie theaters once they do reopen. “With respect to movies, yeah, we moved them later. We thought that was the right thing to do to preserve asset value,” Bakish said. “We obviously look at the market and look at what it will be at a point in time. And we’ll make a decision if there is a sufficient critical mass of screen, if you will, and theaters to warrant opening a film.”

Bakish made similar points about some of Paramount’s other upcoming tentpole releases that were likewise moved on the release calendar, including A Quiet Place Part II, which was meant to open in mid-March just when theaters everywhere shutting down and is now slated to open Sept. 4, and Tom Cruise’s Top Gun: Maverick, a summer 2020 release that is now scheduled for December 23.

“I mean, whether it’s A Quiet Place Part II, which we premiered in New York two weeks before the crisis and pulled at the last minute, thank God we did, because the film is incredible. And we didn’t waste it, we saved it,” Bakish added. “Likewise, Top Gun: Maverick is off the charts. But we’re gonna open them when it makes sense to open them.”

Sponge on the Run is not even the first major studio film scheduled to kickstart late summer 2020. Warner Bros. plans to release Christopher Nolan’s Tenet on July 17, which many theater chains have cited as a film that could help goose attendance to theaters again as they target reopening. However, questions remain about how theaters can operate with reduced capacity and new safety protocols — and whether people will be willing to return to crowded spaces.

Paramount already fast tracked the release of one blockbuster from earlier this year, Sonic the Hedgehog, on digital after its theatrical release, including a planned opening in China, was cut short due to the coronavirus. What’s more, Paramount’s comedy The Lovebirds that was meant to premiere at SXSW and then open in the spring, was also acquired by Netflix in lieu of a theatrical release.

SpongeBob SquarePants (Tom Kenny), his best friend Patrick Star (Bill Fagerbakke) and the rest of the gang from Bikini Bottom hit the big screen 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 this perilous and hilarious rescue mission, SpongeBob and his pals prove there’s nothing stronger than the power of friendship.

The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run will feature a raft of guest stars, including: Keanu Reeves (as a tumbleweed named Sage), Awkwafina, Reggie Watts and Snoop Dog. Cyndi Lauper (The SpongeBob Musical) has written original songs for the film.

Based on the TV series created by Stephen Hillenburg, The SpongeBob Movie is produced by Ryan Harris, with Stephen Hillenburg exec producing. Paramount Animation and Nickelodeon Movies present, in association with MRC A United Plankton Pictures production. Written and directed by Tim Hill. An actor named Antonio Raul Corbo will be voicing young SpongeBob.

The previous SpongeBob animated feature, 2015’s “Sponge Out of Water,” made $325.1 million worldwide.

Original source: TheWrap; Additional source: Anime Superhero Forum /@19MagiswordLane.

More Nick: Nickelodeon Announces Voice Cast for 'Kamp Koral: SpongeBob’s Under Years', First-Ever 'SpongeBob SquarePants' Spinoff!
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