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SpongeBob SquarePants’ next movie tells his origin story

Despite a summer release, the movie will be influenced by Christmas classic It’s a Wonderful Life

Spongebob Movie: A Sponge out of Water poster Paramount Animation
Austen Goslin (he/him) is an entertainment editor. He writes about the latest TV shows and movies, and particularly loves all things horror.

We’ve known that SpongeBob SquarePants would be headed back to the big screen since early 2015, but only now have we received our first real details of what he’ll be up to in his third feature film.

During her talk at the VIEW Conference in Turin, Italy, Paramount Animation president Mireilla Soria gave fans a brief description of the movie, according to Cartoon Brew. Soria said that the movie, which will be called The SpongeBob Movie: It’s a Wonderful Sponge, is going to explore the character’s history, taking Bikini Bottom’s favorite sponge back to his roots at Camp Coral, where he first met all his undersea friends. The film will also, based on its title, bear a heavy influence from Frank Capra’s 1949 Christmas classic, It’s a Wonderful Life.

It’s a Wonderful Sponge will be the first of the SpongeBob SquarePants feature films not to be animated by Rough Draft Korea, the South Korean animation studio that has also worked on the TV show. Instead, the film will be animated by Mikros Image, a Montreal-based studio that has computer-generated animated films like Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie for Paramount in the past. It’s a Wonderful Sponge will, however, be directed by Tim Hill, a veteran of the series.

This will also be the first SpongeBob movie to feature entirely CG animation. The original SpongeBob SquarePants movie was traditionally hand drawn; the second film, The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water, mixed in some CG during scenes where the film used 3D. This seems to be a the result of a new directive from Paramount, which is shifting further away from the 2D animation that defines many of our favorite cartoons.

During her talk, Soria explained, “The big tentpole movies are our meat and potatoes. Those have to reach a broad audience. I don’t think we can do 2D movies, to be honest.”

The arrival of a third SpongeBob movie is hardly a surprise, as the film franchise is the most lucrative one that Paramount Animation has. The first film in the series took home over $140 million at the box office, while the second grossed an even more impressive $323 million. The SpongeBob Movie: It’s a Wonderful Sponge is set to debut on July 17, 2020.

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