Major names in the film and animation world have already spoken today at the VIEW Conference in Turin, Italy including Rob Bredow, head of Industrial Light & Magic, film composer Hans Zimmer, and Mireille Soria, president of Paramount Animation.

During her talk, Soria revealed previously unannounced details about the upcoming The SpongeBob Movie: It’s a Wonderful Sponge, currently slated for release on July 17, 2020.

Mireille Soria speaking at the VIEW Conference. (Photo: Damné Jesús Pérez Irigoyen.)
Mireille Soria speaking at the VIEW Conference. (Photo: Damné Jesús Pérez Irigoyen.)

The film will have a “nice homage to the classic movie,” per its title which riffs on Frank Capra’s It’s a Wonderful Life, but the bigger story is that it’s an origin tale, which sounds like a fitting way to celebrate the pop culture staple, which turns 20 years old next year.

“For the first time ever, we’re going to the get to the origin of how little Spongebob met the rest of the Bikini Bottom gang at summer camp,” Soria said during her talk. “The film’s opening will take place at Camp Coral when all of our favorite characters meet for the first time.”

The film is going to offer the first-ever full-cg (characters and environments) version of the universe, and there will also be hybrid sequences with the characters in the live world, which also happened in the previous film, The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water.

The cg animation on the movie will be entrusted to Paris and Montreal-based Mikros Image, which has announced the project on their website. The studio is well equipped for cartoony cg animation, having previously produced the animation for Dreamworks’ Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie, and currently working on Asterix: The Secret of the Magic Potion, for which we shared the new trailer a few days ago.

Hans Zimmer is scoring the new Spongebob film, and providing overall musical direction, which will include songs from big names, to be announced at a late date.

The first film in the series, the 2d The Spongebob SquarePants Movie (2004), grossed $140 million worldwide, and the follow-up, The Spongebob Movie: Sponge Out of Water (2015), more than doubled that total with $325m worldwide. The upcoming film, directed by show veteran Tim Hill, who developed the series, sounds like a super-cute concept and should continue the winning streak for Paramount’s most successful feature animation franchise.

Soria was also asked by someone in the audience about whether Paramount would make films in different techniques besides cg. The studio’s current announced slate is all-cg, but Soria didn’t rule out that other techniques would be used in future films.

“The big tentpole movies are our meat and potatoes,” she said. “Those have to reach a broad audience. I don’t think we can do 2d movies, to be honest. I think that’s hard.” However, Soria said that she could envision movies in different techniques that don’t have the same budget as a tentpole-cg feature and don’t have to appeal to the four-quadrant demographic. Acknowledging her openness to different possibilities, she said, “There’s nothing I would say no to.”

The studio’s next film is Wonder Park, which will be released in 2019. That film has been in the works since at least 2013, and was well into production when Soria joined as president last year.

Other announced films are Monster on the Hill (produced by ReelFX) and Luck (produced by Skydance Animation).

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