The SpongeBob Movie Won't Stream Stateside Until 2021, And That's Not The Only Caveat

The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run is already streaming internationally, but we'll be waiting until 2021 to find out who lives in a pineapple under the sea.


In another timeline, The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run would've hit U.S. theaters on May 22. But then, 2020 happened. SpongeBob saw its theatrical premiere pushed back to August and limited to Canada. Now, SpongeBob's first all-CGI adventure is finally heading to streaming--everywhere but here in the United States, where it will finally arrive in early 2021. Oh, and it won't show up on Netflix even then.

After ViacomCBS rescheduled and re-rescheduled the theatrical debut of SpongeBob's third movie, the studio finally was forced to cancel it entirely due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Instead, the studio announced that the movie would head for streaming services. Netflix picked up international distribution rights for the movie. If you have friends in the UK, Japan, or any other country where Netflix operates, they can already watch Sponge on the Run.

Here in the U.S., though, ViacomCBS is in charge of distributing the Paramount Animation-produced flick. The company plans to put SpongeBob on premium video-on-demand services in early 2021. Once the movie's PVOD period ends, it'll move to CBS All Access, recently rebranded as Paramount+.

Talking to Looper last month, SpongeBob director Tim Hill expressed disappointment in the movie's strange release timeline.

"It's terrible. I was hoping for a big fanfare and a great premiere and seeing all the people I worked with, and doing a cast and crew screening, being able to at least thank people, which never happened," said Hill, who also directed the similarly COVID-affected Robert DeNiro family comedy, The War with Grandpa. "It was just what we're doing now, like, 'Bye. Movie's over.' It didn't feel natural, for sure."

While Netflix is promising no COVID-related delays, studios have pushed back countless movies and television shows. Delayed movies include Fast & Furious 9, Marvel's Black Widow, and the latest 007 movie, No Time To Die. Television has seen just as many shifts, with CW shows like Supergirl, The Flash, and Riverdale ending early. Premieres of shows like Marvel's The Falcon and the Winter Soldier on Disney+, Lord of the Rings on Amazon Prime, and the Handmaid's Tale on Hulu have all been pushed into 2021.

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