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SpongeBob SquarePants movie skips theaters for streaming premiere

The latest to choose digital first.


The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run has a new destination.


The latest SpongeBob SquarePants movie will bypass its August theatrical release and go straight to video on demand early next year, according to a Variety report Monday. It'll then arrive on CBS All Access. (Disclosure: CNET is owned by ViacomCBS.)

The coronavirus pandemic forced Paramount to delay SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run's July theatrical release to early August, but now, following the path of other family-oriented films Trolls World Tour and Scoob!, it'll premiere on services like Amazon and iTunes.

It's not clear how long it'll be on those services before it heads to CBS All Access. The subscription streaming service will house all seasons of the SpongeBob cartoon too, as part of ViacomCBS' rebranding and expansion.

SpongeBob movies have been lucrative for Paramount: The first 2004 movie took $141 million globally, and 2015's Sponge Out of Water upped that to $325 million.

There are a couple of hints as to why Paramount chose the digital route. Other family-oriented film Trolls World Tour's digital release in April took nearly $100 million in its first three weeks, reportedly earning more for Universal than the original Trolls' entire domestic theatrical haul. Scoob! reportedly fared well too when it arrived on digital in May, topping rentals in its opening weekend.

Read: Tom Kenny, voice of SpongeBob, on how lockdown affects the show

Unlike the cartoon, The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run is computer-animated with some live-action, and in keeping with its movie predecessors, will feature a few celebrity cameos, like Keanu Reeves, playing a character called Sage -- "I'm made out of sage, and I am a sage, so it works out pretty well," he says in the trailer.