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The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run[3] (originally titled The SpongeBob Movie: It's a Wonderful Sponge) is the third feature film based on SpongeBob SquarePants. It was first released theatrically exclusively in Canada on August 14, 2020 and on Netflix for international markets[4] on November 5, 2020, and later on premium video-on-demand and Paramount+ for the United States on March 4, 2021, with a DVD and Blu-ray release following on July 13th.


The movie opens at SpongeBob's house where we find Gary waking his owner up. After feeding his pet, we see an unrealistic montage showing SpongeBob and Gary's daily routine, after which SpongeBob rushes to the Krusty Krab in order to be early, leaving Gary sad and alone.

At the Chum Bucket, we see Plankton plotting yet another evil plan to get the Krabby Patty secret formula, until Karen reminds him of his "wall of failures". Karen tries to tell her husband that SpongeBob is the factor of all his failures, but Plankton ignores her and continues his plan.

Meanwhile, at the Krusty Krab, SpongeBob is busy cooking and serving Krabby Patties, when Sandy arrives with a special invention - a robot named Otto. She shows the robot to Mr. Krabs, who thinks that it's a great invention to fire people without remorse. After some humorous antics, though, Mr. Krabs throws Otto into Plankton's garbage can, and Karen decides to adopt Otto.

That night, SpongeBob is ready to go home after cleaning up the Krusty Krab when we see that Plankton, disguised as a pickle, has been hiding in a pickle jar. He uses a giant mechanical claw to remove a food cover from a Krabby Patty, but as he's about to accomplish this, SpongeBob enters the kitchen looking for keys, causing Plankton to fall into a series of comical mishaps, after which he realizes that SpongeBob truly is the factor for all his failures.

Meanwhile, in the Lost City of Atlantic City, we meet Poseidon, who discovers a wrinkle right next to his eye. He demands his Chancellor to bring him a snail so he can uses the snail's trail as a face cream. However, the Chancellor informs him that they're out of snails and writes a royal decree that is posted all over town. When Plankton reads one, he gets the brilliant idea of kidnapping Gary and sending SpongeBob on a risky mission to get Gary from the Lost City of Atlantic City, thereby getting rid of SpongeBob forever.

The next day, when SpongeBob arrives home, he can't seem to find Gary anywhere. After a flashback to when he first met Gary at Camp Coral, Patrick then tells SpongeBob that he found one of his "Lost Snail" posters, giving him the idea to look for clues. They soon find the royal decree mentioned earlier, and SpongeBob assumes that Gary's been snailnapped and taken to the Lost City of Atlantic City. After a comedic pep talk, SpongeBob and Patrick are ready to go rescue Gary, but they need some wheels. Plankton, as part of his plan, provides them a free ride to the Lost City of Atlantic City, with Otto as the driver. Meanwhile, Mr. Krabs and Squidward find out SpongeBob is missing and can't cook for the customers, leading to them acting like savages.

While that is going on, SpongeBob and Patrick seem to be in a dream where they find a bar called "The Inferno Saloon" in the middle of nowhere, when suddenly a taking tumbleweed called Sage gives the duo a so-called "Challenge Coin" that's supposed to give SpongeBob the courage needed on his journey. The two are assigned to free the souls from "The Inferno Saloon" and its evil owner, "El Diablo". They manage to do so, despite "El Diablo"'s attempts to kill them. Soon after, they both wake up from the dream, but somehow Sage is still with them, telling them to look at the Window of Meanwhile, a magical device which allows them to watch what's happening in the kingdom, where they find Poseidon using Gary as a face cream. Horrified by this, SpongeBob and Patrick hurry to Atlantic City.

Back at the now-empty Krusty Krab, Mr. Krabs is devastated for losing his customers, when suddenly Plankton enters and demands Mr. Krabs to give him the secret formula once it for all, Mr. Krabs, without hesitation, takes out a tiny secret formula from his belt and hands it to Plankton, who at first happily receives it, but then feels empty and upset at seeing Mr. Krabs so depressed.


SpongeBob and Patrick finally arrive at Atlantic City, where Sage advises them to not lose any focus. But they quickly do lose focus and get caught up in riding roller coasters, eating food, and gambling, it all leads to them waking up drunk and confused. When they finally regain consciousness, they hurry to the kingdom's stage entrance where they find themselves forced to participate in the talent show. SpongeBob finds Gary and tries to get him home, but Poseidon has him arrested.

Meanwhile, Sandy, having found out that SpongeBob is missing, she goes to the Krusty Krab and starts blaming Mr. Krabs and Squidward on SpongeBob's disappearance. When they explain that they weren't guilty, a news report explaining SpongeBob and Patrick's arrest plays on the Krusty Krab television. Seeing this, Mr. Krabs, Squidward, Sandy and even Plankton (who has apparently forgotten about finally getting the Krabby Patty formula) embark on another dangerous journey to free SpongeBob and Patrick.

In Poseidon's dungeon, SpongeBob finds out he lost his "Challenge Coin" by gambling it, the duo get on a fight and are then sent to their frightening execution, only to be sabotaged by Mr. Krabs, Squidward, Sandy and Plankton, they then start explaining why SpongeBob shouldn't get executed by traveling back to Camp Coral in the form of flashbacks.

  • Sandy's flashback: We see a young SpongeBob arrive to Kamp Koral when he suddenly meets a young Sandy, she then explains why she has to wear her famous astronaut suit and SpongeBob asks if she's a scientist, with Sandy replying no, he then tells her that she can do anything, Sandy is then quickly convinced by SpongeBob that she can indeed be a scientist if she wanted to, ending the flashback.
  • Patrick's flashback: We see a young Patrick crying on top of a log, then SpongeBob finds him crying and asks him what's wrong, Patrick explains he's homesick and has no friends, so SpongeBob decides to befriend the little sea star and invites him to jellyfish with him.
  • Squidward's flashback: Squidward explains that back then, he wanted to win the Annual Camp Coral Talent Show more that anything, and when SpongeBob and Patrick's act steals the crowd, Squidward runs crying to his cabin, then SpongeBob and Patrick enter his cabin and explain that there was an evaluating mistake and Squidward actually won the Campy Award by a landslide.

After these flashbacks, Mr. Krabs gives out a speech about how SpongeBob inspired him to open the Krusty Krab and how SpongeBob is in fact the secret formula to the Krabby Patty. After that, the crew perform "Secret to the Formula", which is a distraction for SpongeBob to get his hands on Gary and switch him out with a wooden decoy. When Poseidon discovers this, he sends his guards to get them.

After an exciting chase scene, the gang hide in a knight armor, leading to an intense climax with the guards fighting the armor being controlled by SpongeBob, Patrick, Squidward, Mr. Krabs, Sandy and Plankton. They all get rounded up by Poseidon, who will only let them go if they hand over Gary. Sage then reappears and reminds SpongeBob that the courage he needs to confront Poseidon is inside him, so he defies Poseidon and tells him that he loves Gary too much to hand him over, then tells Poseidon he doesn't have any loyal friends himself. Poseidon laughs at this at first, but after actually checking with everyone on his kingdom, he comes to the sad conclusion that SpongeBob is right. SpongeBob tells him that he'll gladly be his friend if he sets Gary free. Poseidon explains that then he wouldn't be able to get rid of his wrinkle, but SpongeBob explains that looks don't matter, what matters is what's inside, so after this advice, Poseidon starts "loosening up a bit" by taking off his wig, removing his neck clip and dentures and taking off his chest plate and girdle. When he realizes how free he feels like that, he salutes SpongeBob for having the courage to stand up against a powerful king, and frees Gary and all the snails he previously kidnapped, so SpongeBob has the idea to turn Bikini Bottom into a sea snail refuge.



On April 2, 2020, the film's planned theatrical release for May 22, 2020 was postponed to August 7th that year due to COVID-19 pandemic, before Paramount finally scrapped its theatrical release. The film would instead be released digitally, first on premium digital formats and then exclusively on CBS All Access.[10][11] According to ViacomCBS CEO Bob Bakish, he addressed about the uncertainty regarding the film's planned theatrical release following the virus for the sake of public safety even if theaters were to reopen by its release.[12]

On July 30, 2020, Paramount Pictures Canada announced the film would be released in Canadian theaters on August 14, 2020.[13]


Book artwork for the movie

  • This is the second SpongeBob SquarePants production to be animated in CGI.
    • It is also the very first to be fully produced in the format and to forfeit its 2D animation. The animation was done by Mikros Image which also worked on Sherlock Gnomes, another animated work by Paramount Pictures. Mikros is notorious for its 'cartoon-style' CG animation.
  • This is the third time Gary goes missing after "Dumped" and "Have You Seen This Snail?".
  • This is the first SpongeBob movie to be released following the death of series creator Stephen Hillenburg in 2018.
  • The movie's storyline went through multiple revisions during his development. It was originally pitched as a hybrid live-action/animated movie while the plot would have been around Gary being kidnapped by King Neptune and taken to Atlantis in order to be cloned. It was rejected by Paramount Pictures as they would fear that the movie would underperform due to being set in Atlantis.[14]
    • Another storyline taking a more "Science-fiction" approach was later made and would have featured anthropomorphic cats as the main antagonists. According to concept art and storyboards,Gary would have been kidnapped by the cats leading SpongeBob, Patrick, Squidward and Sandy to save him. Throughout the story, they would have visited different worlds such as an futuristic-like world inhabited by dolphins. This second storyline was scrapped due to being "a bit too far-fetched." and because "Stephen Hillenburg was always a fan of grounded, relatable and simple stories."[15]

The film's original title.

A promotional photo from when the film had its original title.

  • The film's title was changed from The SpongeBob Movie: It's a Wonderful Sponge to The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run on November 12, 2019.[16]
  • The first trailer of the film was released on November 14, 2019.[17]
  • A series based on the film, itself a prequel to both the previous films and the series, has been announced and greenlit. Titled Camp Coral: SpongeBob's Under Years, the announcement has already met with initial backlash from fans including former showrunner Paul Tibbitt.
  • Academy Award-winning composer Hans Zimmer composed the film's score along with Steve Mazzaro. Zimmer alone has previously collaborated in Rango and various blockbuster films.
  • This is the first animated film for Tim Hill as a director after previously working on many live-action/CGI hybrid family films. He was a former storyboard artist and writer, as well as one of the developers. Sponge on the Run marks his official return to the SpongeBob franchise.
  • Like the previous films, it has live-action sequences, but now it seemingly takes place somewhere in a land area rather than at a beach as previously done.
  • This is Snoop Dogg's third appearance in a Nickelodeon production, after the Big Time Rush episode "Big Time Christmas" and the Sanjay and Craig episode "Street Dogg".
  • This is the first film to open with the Paramount Animation logo. The closing Paramount logo is that of the original.
  • Tiffany Haddish has previously collaborated in three animated sequels in 2019, as well as the comedy films released by Paramount Players. This is her first animated film with Paramount.
  • This is the first SpongeBob film, and for Paramount Animation, to collaborate with Skywalker Sound, an Academy Award-winning sound studio. It previously collaborated in the SpongeBob short, The Endless Summer.
    • Oscar nominee Tom Rogers is the film's sound designer who worked on Toy Story 3. He also worked on The Willoughbys for Netflix, another "frame-by-frame" styled CG animated film released in 2020.
  • The film's flashback to when SpongeBob first met Gary as a child is very similar to how Shaggy met Scooby-Doo in Scoob!, another CG animated film based on a television cartoon (which was also originally planned for a theatrical release, just a week before Sponge on the Run's original intended release, in fact).
    • Conversely, both characters sound like an actual child rather than having their original voices high-pitched as in their original cartoons.
    • Animator Tony Craig was involved in both films.
  • This is Matt Berry's second role in a SpongeBob film, having previously voiced Bubbles in Sponge Out of Water.
  • The film was rated PG "for rude humor, some thematic elements, and mild language" from the Motion Picture Association.
    • This is the first SpongeBob movie that has mild language and thematic elements.
      • This is also the second SpongeBob movie to have rude humor, the first movie had crude humor for the rating.
  • The film is likely to be 'darker' compared to previous films since it would feature an antagonist who use snails for cosmetic use.
  • This is the first Nicktoon film that was produced as a theatrical film but would instead go directly to digital (except in Canada).
  • This is the second SpongeBob project dedicated to series creator Stephen Hillenburg, after the episode "SpongeBob's Big Birthday Blowout".
  • This movie reunites with Richard Steven Horvitz and Rodger Bumpass as they were previously casting together in Invader Zim and Invader Zim: Enter the Florpus.
  • This is the first time since "Sailor Mouth" that we hear SpongeBob swear, but this time it's uncensored saying the word "crappy", hence the MPAA's "mild language" rating description.
  • Unlike the previous SpongeBob films, this marks the first SpongeBob movie to not have a post-credits scene.
  • The movie's depictions of how SpongeBob met Gary, Patrick, Sandy, Squidward, Mr. Krabs, and Mrs. Puff contradict the previously established backstories as to how he met them.
  • Conrad Vernon, the voice of Mason in the Madagascar films and a DreamWorks crew member, was also a Creative consultant for the film.
  • This is the only SpongeBob movie where "SpongeBob SquarePants Theme Song" does not play, if one doesn't count snippets from the song in "Agua".
  • This marks the third time Squidward has said the line "Another day, another migraine," the first two being in "SpongeBob Meets the Strangler" and The SpongeBob Musical.




  2. ‘SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run’ Skipping Theaters to Launch On Demand and CBS All Access (EXCLUSIVE)
  9. NickALive! Twitter post: "Tiffany Haddish and Keanu Reeves to guest star on #SpongeBobMovie #SpongeOnTheRun!"
  11. ‘SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run’ Skipping Theaters to Launch On Demand and CBS All Access (EXCLUSIVE)
  13. Tweet by Paramount Canada]
  16. Telling, Gillian (November 12, 2019). "SpongeBob Is Back! The Man Behind the Voice on Returning for a Big Screen Adventure ". People. Retrieved on November 12, 2019. 

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