Sponge on the Run Sponge on the Run

ViacomCBS has cancelled the August 7 theatrical release of The Spongebob Movie: Sponge on the Run and delayed its premiere until early 2021.

When it does launch, it won’t be in theaters. The film will debut digitally in the U.S via premium video on demand and then move exclusively to CBS All Access, ViacomCBS’ subscription VOD service.

In addition to to the film, CBS All Access will soon offer all prior seasons of the Spongebob Squarepants tv series. “This [film] launch will be perfectly timed with our continued expansion and planned rebranding of the service in early 2021, as we welcome SpongeBob and the gang from Bikini Bottom to the service in the biggest way possible,” said Marc DeBevoise, chief digital officer, ViacomCBS and president & chief executive officer, ViacomCBS Digital.

The news that Spongebob will skip its theatrical window is not entirely unexpected. As we reported last month, ViacomCBS CEO Bob Bakish had suggested during an earnings call that the company planned to keep all options on the table for the Spongebob film and wouldn’t open theatrically unless “there’s sufficient critical mass of screens” to warrant opening the film.

The major U.S. movie chains are planning to open up theaters again over the coming month, but with coronavirus cases currently rising in over half of U.S. states, it remains to be seen how eager audiences are to return inside of theaters. In a Cartoon Brew poll of 850 participants, nearly 80% of readers said they would not feel comfortable going to see a movie at the theater this summer.