ⓘ SpongeBob SquarePants
SpongeBob SquarePants is an American animated comedy television series created by marine science educator and animator Stephen Hillenburg for Nickelodeon. The series chronicles the adventures and endeavors of the title character and his aquatic friends in the fictional underwater city of Bikini Bottom. The fifth-longest-running American animated series, its popularity has made it a media franchise. It is the highest rated series to air on Nickelodeon and ViacomCBS Domestic Media Networks most distributed property. As of late 2017, the media franchise has generated billion in merchandising revenue for Nickelodeon.
Many of the series ideas originated in The Intertidal Zone, an unpublished educational book that Hillenburg created in 1989 to teach his students about undersea life. He began developing SpongeBob SquarePants into a television series in 1996 following the cancellation of Rockos Modern Life. He turned to Tom Kenny, who had worked with him on that series, to voice the title character. SpongeBob was originally going to be named SpongeBoy, and the series called SpongeBoy Ahoy! ; both of these were changed as the name was already trademarked.
Nickelodeon held a preview for the series in the United States on May 1, 1999, after it aired the 1999 Kids Choice Awards. The series officially premiered on July 17, 1999. It has received worldwide critical acclaim since its premiere and had gained enormous popularity by its second season. A feature film, The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie, was released in theaters on November 19, 2004. A second film adaptation, The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water, followed on February 6, 2015. A third film and prequel to the television series, The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run, is expected to be released on May 22, 2020. In 2018, the series began airing its twelfth season; it was renewed for a thirteenth season on July 17, 2019.
SpongeBob SquarePants has won a variety of awards including: six Annie Awards, eight Golden Reel Awards, four Emmy Awards, 16 Kids Choice Awards, and two BAFTA Childrens Awards. The series has been involved in several public controversies including speculation over SpongeBobs intended sexual orientation. In 2011, a newly described species of fungus, Spongiforma squarepantsii, was named after the cartoons title character. A Broadway musical based on the series opened in 2017 to critical acclaim. Two spin-off series, Kamp Koral: SpongeBobs Under Years and an untitled spin-off based on the character Squidward Tentacles, are in development as of 2019.
1.1. Premise Setting
The series takes place primarily in the benthic underwater city of Bikini Bottom located in the Pacific Ocean beneath the real-life coral reef known as Bikini Atoll. Its citizens are mostly multicolored fish who live in buildings made from ship funnels and use "boatmobiles", amalgamations of cars and boats, as a mode of transportation. Recurring locations within Bikini Bottom include the neighboring houses of SpongeBob, Patrick, and Squidward; two competing restaurants, the Krusty Krab and the Chum Bucket; Mrs. Puffs Boating School, which includes a driving course and a sunken lighthouse; the Treedome, an oxygenated glass enclosure where Sandy lives; Shady Shoals Rest Home; a seagrass meadow called Jellyfish Fields; and Goo Lagoon, a subaqueous brine pool that is a popular beach hangout.
When the SpongeBob crew began production of the series pilot episode, they were tasked with designing stock locations, to be used repeatedly, where most scenes would take place like the Krusty Krab and SpongeBobs pineapple house. The idea was "to keep everything nautical", so the crew used plenty of rope, wooden planks, ships wheels, netting, anchors, boilerplates, and rivets to create the shows setting. Transitions between scenes are marked by bubbles filling the screen, accompanied by the sound of rushing water.
The series features "sky flowers" as a main setting material. When series background designer Kenny Pittenger was asked what they were, he answered, "They function as clouds in a way, but since the show takes place underwater, they arent really clouds. Because of the tiki influence on the show, the background painters use a lot of pattern." Pittenger said the sky flowers were meant to "evoke the look of a flower-print Hawaiian shirt".
1.2. Premise Characters
The series revolves around the title character and an ensemble cast of his aquatic friends. SpongeBob SquarePants is an energetic and optimistic sea sponge who lives in a submerged pineapple with his pet snail Gary, who meows like a cat. SpongeBob has a childlike enthusiasm for life, which carries over to his job as a fry cook at a fast food restaurant called the Krusty Krab. His greatest goal in life is to obtain a license to drive a boatmobile. His favorite pastimes include "jellyfishing", which involves catching jellyfish with a net in a manner similar to butterfly catching, and blowing soap bubbles into elaborate shapes.
Living two houses away from SpongeBob his best friend Patrick Star, a dim-witted yet friendly pink starfish who resides under a rock. Despite his mental setbacks, Patrick sees himself as intelligent. Squidward Tentacles, SpongeBobs next-door neighbor and co-worker at the Krusty Krab, is an arrogant, ill-tempered octopus who lives in an Easter Island moai. He enjoys playing the clarinet and painting self-portraits but hates his job as a cashier. He dislikes living between SpongeBob and Patrick because of their childish nature. The owner of the Krusty Krab is a miserly red crab named Mr. Krabs who talks like a sailor and runs his restaurant as if it were a pirate ship. He is a single parent with one teenage daughter, a sperm whale named Pearl, to whom he wants to bequeath his riches. Pearl does not want to continue the family business and would rather spend her time listening to pop music or working at the local shopping mall. Another of SpongeBobs friends is Sandy Cheeks, a thrill-seeking and athletic squirrel from Texas, who wears an air-filled diving suit to breathe underwater. She lives in an oak tree entrapped in a clear glass dome locked by an airtight, hand-turned seal and is an expert in karate, as well as a scientist.
Located across the street from the Krusty Krab is an unsuccessful rival restaurant called the Chum Bucket. It is run by a small, green, one-eyed copepod named Plankton and his computer-wife, Karen. Plankton constantly tries to steal the secret recipe for Mr. Krabss popular Krabby Patty burgers, hoping to gain the upper hand and put the Krusty Krab out of business. Karen supplies him with evil schemes to obtain the formula, but their efforts are unsuccessful and their restaurant rarely has any customers. When SpongeBob is not working at the Krusty Krab, he is often taking boat-driving lessons from Mrs. Puff, a paranoid but patient pufferfish. SpongeBob is Mrs. Puffs most diligent student and knows every answer to the oral exams he takes, but he panics and crashes when he tries to drive a real boat. When Mrs. Puff endures one of SpongeBobs crashes or is otherwise frightened, she puffs up into a ball.
Special episodes of the show are hosted by a live-action pirate named Patchy and his pet parrot Potty, whose segments are presented in a dual narrative with the animated stories. Patchy is portrayed as the president of a fictional SpongeBob fan club, and his greatest aspiration is to meet SpongeBob himself. Potty likes to make fun of Patchys enthusiasm and causes trouble for him while he tries to host the show. An unseen figure called the French Narrator often introduces episodes and narrates the intertitles as if the series were a nature documentary about the ocean. His role and distinctive manner of speaking are references to the oceanographer Jacques Cousteau. Recurring guest characters appear throughout the series including: the retired superheroes Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy, who are idolized by SpongeBob and Patrick; a pirate specter known as the Flying Dutchman; the muscular lifeguard of Goo Lagoon, Larry the Lobster; and the merman god of the sea, King Neptune.
2.1. Production Early inspirations
Series creator Stephen Hillenburg first became fascinated with the ocean as a child and began developing his artistic abilities at a young age. Although these interests would not overlap for some time - the idea of drawing fish seemed boring to him - Hillenburg pursued both during college, receiving a major in marine biology and a minor in art. After graduating in 1984, he joined the Ocean Institute, an organization in Dana Point, California, dedicated to educating the public about marine science and maritime history.
While Hillenburg was there, his love of the ocean began to influence his artistry. He created a precursor to SpongeBob SquarePants: a comic book titled The Intertidal Zone used by the institute to teach visiting students about the animal life of tide pools. The comic starred various anthropomorphic sea lifeforms, many of which would evolve into SpongeBob SquarePants characters. Hillenburg tried to get the comic professionally published, but none of the companies he sent it to were interested.
A large inspiration to Hillenburg was Weens 1997 album The Mollusk, which had a nautical and underwater theme. Hillenburg contacted the band shortly after the albums release, explaining the baseline ideas for SpongeBob SquarePants, and also requested a song from the band, which they sent on Christmas Eve. This song was "Loop de Loop", which was used in the episode "Your Shoes Untied".
2.2. Production Conception
While working as a staff artist at the Ocean Institute, Hillenburg entertained plans to return eventually to college for a masters degree in art. Before this could materialize, he attended an animation festival, which inspired him to make a slight change in course. Instead of continuing his education with a traditional art program, Hillenburg chose to study experimental animation at the California Institute of the Arts. His thesis film, Wormholes, is about the theory of relativity. It was screened at festivals, and at one of these, Hillenburg met Joe Murray, creator of the popular Nickelodeon animated series, Rockos Modern Life. Murray was impressed by the style of the film and offered Hillenburg a job. Hillenburg joined the series as a director and later, during the fourth season, he took on the roles of producer and creative director.
Martin Olson, one of the writers for Rockos Modern Life, read The Intertidal Zone and encouraged Hillenburg to create a television series with a similar concept. At that point, Hillenburg had not even considered creating his own series. However, he realized that if he ever did, this would be the best approach. He began to develop some of the characters from The Intertidal Zone, including the comics "announcer", Bob the Sponge. He wanted his series to stand out from most popular cartoons of the time, which he felt were exemplified by buddy comedies like The Ren & Stimpy Show. As a result, Hillenburg decided to focus on a single main character: the "weirdest" sea creature he could think of. This led him to the sponge. The Intertidal Zone s Bob the Sponge resembles an actual sea sponge, and at first, Hillenburg continued to use this design. In determining the new characters behavior, Hillenburg drew inspiration from innocent, childlike figures that he enjoyed, such as Charlie Chaplin, Laurel and Hardy, Jerry Lewis, and Pee-wee Herman. He then considered modeling the character after a kitchen sponge and realized this idea would match the characters square personality perfectly. Patrick, Mr. Krabs, Pearl, and Squidward were the next characters Hillenburg created for the show.
To voice the series central character, Hillenburg turned to Tom Kenny, whose career in animation had started alongside Hillenburgs on Rockos Modern Life. Elements of Kennys own personality were employed to develop the character further. Initially, Hillenburg wanted to use the name SpongeBoy - the character had no last name - and the series was to have been called SpongeBoy Ahoy! However, the Nickelodeon legal department discovered - after voice acting had been completed for the original seven-minute pilot episode - that the name "SpongeBoy" was already in use for a mop product. A character of the same name was already trademarked by Flaming Carrot Comics creator Bob Burden. In choosing a replacement name, Hillenburg felt he still had to use the word "Sponge", so that viewers would not mistake the character for a "Cheese Man". He settled on the name "SpongeBob". "SquarePants" was chosen as a family name after Kenny saw a picture of the character and remarked, "Boy, look at this sponge in square pants, thinking he can get a job in a fast food place." When he heard Kenny say it Hillenburg loved the phrase and felt it would reinforce the characters nerdiness.
2.3. Production Assembling the crew
Derek Drymon, who served as creative director for the first three seasons, has said that Hillenburg wanted to surround himself with a "team of young and hungry people". Many of the major contributors to SpongeBob SquarePants had worked before with Hillenburg on Rockos Modern Life: this included: Drymon, art director Nick Jennings, supervising director Alan Smart, writer / voice actor Doug Lawrence often credited as Mr. Lawrence, and Tim Hill, who helped develop the series bible.
Although Drymon would go on to have a significant influence on SpongeBob SquarePants, he was not offered a role on the series initially. As a late recruit to Rockos Modern Life, he had not established much of a relationship with Hillenburg before SpongeBob s conception. Hillenburg first sought out Drymons storyboard partner, Mark OHare - but he had just created the soon-to-be syndicated comic strip, Citizen Dog. While he would later join SpongeBob as a writer, he lacked the time to get involved with both projects from the outset. Drymon has said, "I remember Hillenburgs bringing it up to Mark in our office and asking him if hed be interested in working on it. I was all ready to say yes to the offer, but Steve didnt ask; he just left the room. I was pretty desperate. so I ran into the hall after him and basically begged him for the job. He didnt jump at the chance." Once Hillenburg had given it some thought and decided to bring Drymon on as creative director, the two began meeting at Hillenburgs house several times a week to develop the series. Drymon has identified this period as having begun in 1996, shortly after the end of Rockos Modern Life.
Jennings was also instrumental in SpongeBob s genesis. Kenny has called him "one of SpongeBobs early graphics mentors". On weekends, Kenny joined Hillenburg, Jennings, and Drymon for creative sessions where they recorded ideas on a tape recorder. Kenny performed audio tests as SpongeBob during these sessions, while Hillenburg voice acted the other characters.
Hill contributed scripts for several first-season episodes including the pilot and was offered the role of story editor, but turned it down - he would go on to pursue a career as a family film director. In his stead, Pete Burns was brought in for the job. Burns hailed from Chicago and had never met any of the principal players on SpongeBob before joining the team.
2.4. Production Pitching
While pitching the cartoon to Nickelodeon executives, Hillenburg donned a Hawaiian shirt, brought along an "underwater terrarium with models of the characters", and played Hawaiian music to set the theme. The setup was described by Nickelodeon executive Eric Coleman as "pretty amazing". They were given money and two weeks to write the pilot episode "Help Wanted". Drymon, Hillenburg, and Jennings returned with what was described by Nickelodeon official Albie Hecht as, "a performance, and every cell sic had to be part-painted, left to dry, paint some other colors. Its still a time-consuming aspect of the process now, but the digital way of doing things means it doesnt take long to correct".
In 2008, the crew began using Wacom Cintiqs for the drawings instead of pencils. The fifth season episode "Pest of the West", one of the half-hour specials, was the first episode where the crew applied this method. Series background designer Kenny Pittenger said, "The only real difference between the way we draw now and the way we drew then is that we abandoned pencil and paper during the fifth season". The shift to Wacom Cintiqs let the designers and animators draw on computer screens and make immediate changes or undo mistakes. Pittenger said, "Many neo-Luddites - er. I mean, many of my cohorts - dont like working on them, but I find them useful. Theres no substitute for the immediacy of drawing on a piece of paper, of course, but digital nautical nonsense is still pretty fun".
Since 2004, the SpongeBob crew has periodically collaborated with the LA-based animation studio Screen Novelties to create stop-motion sequences for special episodes. The studio produced a brief claymation scene for the climax of the first theatrical film. It was re-enlisted in 2009 to create an exclusive opening for the series tenth anniversary special. The abominable snow mollusk, an octopus-like creature made of clay who acts as the antagonist of the double-length episode "Frozen Face-Off," was also animated by the company. Animation World Network reported that "within the SpongeBob creative team, there was always talk of doing a more involved project together" with Screen Novelties. As a result, the group was asked to create an episode animated entirely in stop motion in 2011. This project became "Its a SpongeBob Christmas!”, which reimagined the shows characters as if they were part of a Rankin/Bass holiday film. Tom Kenny, who is normally uninvolved in the writing process, contributed to the episodes plot; he said in 2012 that he and Nickelodeon "wanted to do something just like those old school, stop-motion Rankin-Bass holiday specials. which I watched over and over again when I was a kid growing up in Syracuse." Unconventional materials such as baking soda, glitter, wood chips and breakfast cereal were used in mass quantities to create the specials sets. Members of the Screen Novelties crew received one win and two nominations at the 30th Annie Awards, a nomination at the 2013 Golden Reel Awards, and a nomination at the 2013 Annecy International Animated Film Festival for animating the episode. The team built a dolphin puppet named Bubbles, voiced by Matt Berry, for The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water. Sequences involving Bubbles included a blend of stop motion and traditional animation. A second special animated in stop motion, themed around Halloween and using the same Rankin/Bass-inspired character models, was produced for season 11.
2.5. Production Music
Mark Harrison and Blaise Smith composed the SpongeBob SquarePants theme song. Its lyrics were written by Stephen Hillenburg and the series original creative director Derek Drymon. The melody was inspired by the sea shanty "Blow the Man Down". An old oil painting of a pirate is used in the opening sequence. Dubbed "Painty the Pirate", according to Tom Kenny, Hillenburg found it in a thrift shop "years ago". Patrick Pinney voices Painty the Pirate, singing the theme song as the character. Hillenburgs lips were imposed onto the painting and move along with the lyrics. Kenny joked this is "about as close of a glimpse as most SpongeBob fans are ever going to get of Steve Hillenburg", because of his private nature.
A cover of the song by Avril Lavigne can be found on the SpongeBob SquarePants Movie soundtrack. Another cover by the Violent Femmes aired on Nickelodeon as a promotion when the series moved to prime time.
Steve Belfer, one of Hillenburgs friends from CalArts, wrote and performed the music heard over the end credits. This theme includes ukulele music at Hillenburgs request. Drymon said, "Its so long ago, its hard to be sure, but I remember Hillenburg having the Belfer music early on, maybe before the pilot".
The series music editor and main composer is Nicolas Carr. After working with Hillenburg on Rockos Modern Life, he struggled to find a new job in his field. He had considered a career change before Hillenburg offered him the job. The first seasons score primarily featured selections from the Associated Production Music Library, which Carr has said includes "lots of great old corny Hawaiian music and big, full, dramatic orchestral scores." Rockos Modern Life also used music from this library. It was Hillenburgs decision to adopt this approach. Carr has described the selections for SpongeBob SquarePants as being "more over-the-top" than those for Rockos Modern Life.
Hillenburg felt it was important for the series to develop its own music library, consisting of scores that could be reused and re-edited throughout the years. He wanted these scores to be composed by unknowns, and a group of twelve was assembled. They formed "The Sponge Divers Orchestra", which includes Carr and Belfer. The group went on to provide most of the music for later seasons, although Carr still draws from the Associated Production Music Library, as well as another library that he founded himself - Animation Music Inc.
3.1. Broadcast Tenth anniversary
Nickelodeon began celebrating the series 10th anniversary on January 18, 2009, with a live cast reading of the episode "SpongeBob vs. The Big One". The reading - a first for the series - was held at that years Sundance Film Festival. The episode, which premiered on TV on April 17, 2010, features Johnny Depp as a guest star. Other celebratory actions taken by the network included the launching of a new website for the series spongebob.com and the introduction of new merchandise. A "SpongeBob and water conservation-themed element" was also added to Nickelodeons pro-social campaign The Big Green Help. In an interview, Tom Kenny said, "What Im most proud of is that kids still really like and care about it. They eagerly await new episodes. People who were young children when it started 10 years ago are still watching it and digging it and think its funny. Thats the loving cup for me."
Three nights before the official anniversary date, an hour-long documentary on the series, Square Roots: The Story of SpongeBob SquarePants, premiered on VH1. Critically acclaimed duo Patrick Creadon and Christine OMalley created the film as a followup to I.O.U.S.A. - a documentary on Americas financial situation. Creadon remarked, "After spending two years examining the financial health of the United States, Christine and I were ready to tackle something a little more upbeat. Telling the SpongeBob story feels like the perfect fit." On Friday, July 17, Nickelodeon marked the official anniversary of the series, with a 50-hour television marathon titled "The Ultimate SpongeBob SpongeBash Weekend". It began with a new episode, "To SquarePants or Not to SquarePants". Saturday saw a countdown of the top ten episodes as picked by fans, as well as an airing of The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie. The marathon finished on Sunday, with a countdown of episodes picked by celebrities and the premiere of ten new episodes.
Nickelodeon continued celebrating the anniversary through the rest of the year. An eight-episode DVD set featuring To SquarePants or Not to SquarePants was released shortly after the marathon on July 21. Next a 2.200 minute, 14-disc DVD set titled The First 100 Episodes was released on September 22. Finally, on November 6, an hour-long television film, titled Truth or Square, debuted on Nickelodeon. The film is narrated by Ricky Gervais and features live action cameo appearances by: Rosario Dawson, Craig Ferguson, Will Ferrell, Tina Fey, LeBron James, P!nk, Triumph the Insult Comic Dog, and Robin Williams. It was released as part of a five-episode DVD set on November 10, 2009.
3.2. Broadcast Twentieth anniversary
On February 11, 2019, Nickelodeon announced it would recognize the twentieth anniversary of SpongeBob SquarePants with a series of celebrations known as the "Best Year Ever". In honor of the anniversary, Pantone created color shades known as "SpongeBob SquarePants Yellow" and "Patrick Star Pink" to be used by Nickelodeons licensing partners. Romero Britto, Jon Burgerman, and the Filipino art collective Secret Fresh were commissioned by Nickelodeon to create art pieces devoted to SpongeBob SquarePants. Some of these pieces were to be adapted into commercial products. On February 12, in conjunction with Nickelodeons announcement of the "Best Year Ever", Cynthia Rowley presented a SpongeBob SquarePants -themed wetsuit during New York Fashion Week. A month later, Marlou Breuls presented the SpongeBob SquarePants -themed "Icon Collection" during Amsterdam Fashion Week. That summer, Nike, in collaboration with Kyrie Irving, released a SpongeBob SquarePants series of shoes, accessories, and apparel. In July, for the first time ever, SpongeBob SquarePants became the theme of a cosmetics line, which was released as a limited time offering by HipDot Studios. The "Best Year Ever" also introduced an official SpongeBob SquarePants YouTube channel and a new mobile game based on the series, along with new toy lines.
The "Best Year Ever" formally began on July 12, 2019, with the premiere of the one-hour, live-action/animated TV special SpongeBobs Big Birthday Blowout. It continued that month at San Diego Comic Con, with two panels, a booth, and various activities devoted to the series. The "Best Year Ever" was recognized on Amazon Prime Day with an exclusive early release of SpongeBob SquarePants: The Best 200 Episodes Ever!, a 30-disc DVD compilation of two box sets, SpongeBob SquarePants: The First 100 Episodes and SpongeBob SquarePants: The Next 100 Episodes. The collections received a standard nationwide release on August 27. The "Best Year Ever" continued into 2020 culminating with the May 22 release of The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run.
4.1. Reception Ratings and run-length achievements
Within its first month on air, SpongeBob SquarePants overtook Pokemon as the highest rated Saturday-morning childrens series on television. It held an average national Nielsen rating of 4.9 among children aged two through eleven, denoting 1.9 million viewers. Two years later, the series had firmly established itself as Nickelodeons second highest-rated childrens program, after Rugrats. SpongeBob SquarePants was credited with helping Nickelodeon take the "Saturday-morning ratings crown" for the fourth straight season in 2001. The series had gained a significant adult audience by that point - nearly 40 percent of its 2.2 million viewers were aged 18 to 34. In response to its weekend success, Nickelodeon gave SpongeBob SquarePants time slots at 6:00 PM and 8:00 PM, Monday through Thursday, to increase the series exposure. By the end of 2001 SpongeBob SquarePants boasted the highest ratings for any childrens series, on all of television. Weekly viewership of the series had reached around fifteen million, at least five million of whom were adults.
In October 2002, another Nickelodeon series, The Fairly OddParents, ranked as the number two program for children between two and eleven years old. Its ratings at that time were almost equal to SpongeBob SquarePants then-average of 2.2 million viewers per episode. The Fairly OddParents even briefly surpassed SpongeBob SquarePants, causing it to drop into second place. At this time, The Fairly OddParents had a 6.2 rating and nearly 2.5 million child viewers, while SpongeBob SquarePants had a 6.0 rating and 2.4 million child viewers aged two to eleven. Nickelodeon "recognized" The Fairly OddParents for its climbing ratings and installed it in a new 8:00 PM time slot, previously occupied by SpongeBob SquarePants. In an interview, Cyma Zarghami, then-general manager and executive vice president of Nickelodeon, said, "Are we banking on the fact that Fairly OddParents will be the next SpongeBob?. We are hoping. But SpongeBob is so unique, its hard to say if it will ever be repeated."
In 2012, however, the series ratings were declining. The average number of viewers aged two to eleven watching SpongeBob at any given time dropped 29% in the first quarter from a year earlier, according to Nielsen. Wall Street Journal business writer John Jannarone suggested the series age and oversaturation might be contributing to its ratings decline and might also be directly responsible for the decline in Nickelodeons overall ratings. Media analyst Todd Juenger attributed the decline in Nickelodeons ratings directly to the availability of streaming video content on services like Netflix, a provider of on-demand Internet streaming media.
Philippe Dauman, the president and CEO of Viacom, contradicted that notion, saying: "We are getting nice revenues through these subscription VOD deals", adding Netflix only has "some library content" on its service. A Nickelodeon spokesman said SpongeBob is performing consistently well and remains the number one rated animated series in all of childrens television. He added, "There is nothing that we have seen that points to SpongeBob as a problem." Dauman blamed the drop on "some ratings systemic issues" at Nielsen, citing extensive set-top-box data that "does in no way reflect" the Nielsen data.
Juenger noted SpongeBob could affect the ratings of other Nickelodeon programming because children often change channels to find their favorite programs, then stay tuned to that network. Nickelodeon reduced its exposure on television. In the first quarter of 2012, the network cut back on the number of episodes it aired by 16% compared to a year earlier.
On April 22, 2013, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings announced their intentions not to renew their existing deal with Viacom. Viacoms deal with Netflix expired, and shows such as SpongeBob and Dora the Explorer were removed. However, seasons five through eight of SpongeBob are still available to stream on Netflix in Canada. On June 4, 2013, Viacom announced a multi-year licensing agreement which would move its programs, such as SpongeBob and Dora the Explorer, to Amazon.com, Netflixs top competitor. Amazon agreed to pay more than $200 million to Viacom for the license, its largest subscription streaming transaction ever.
SpongeBob SquarePants is one of the longest-running series on Nickelodeon. It became the networks series with the most episodes during its eighth season, surpassing the 172 episodes of Rugrats. In the ninth season, its 26 episodes brought the number of episodes produced to 204. In a statement, Brown Johnson, Nickelodeons animation president said, SpongeBob s success in reaching over 200 episodes is a testament to creator Stephen Hillenburgs vision, comedic sensibility and his dynamic, lovable characters. The series now joins the club of contemporary classic Nicktoons that have hit this benchmark, so were incredibly proud."
4.2. Reception Critical reception
SpongeBob SquarePants has received universal critical acclaim, being praised for its appeal to different age groups, and the show has earned numerous awards and accolades throughout its run. James Poniewozik of Time magazine described the title character as "the anti-Bart Simpson, temperamentally and physically: his head is as squared-off and neat as Barts is unruly, and he has a personality to match - conscientious, optimistic and blind to the faults in the world and those around him." According to Laura Fries of Variety magazine, the series is "a thoughtful and inventive cartoon about a hopelessly optimistic and resilient sea sponge. Devoid of the double entendres rife in todays animated TV shows, this is purely kids stuff. However, thats not to say that SpongeBob is simplistic or even juvenile. Its charming and whimsical, but clever enough to appeal to teens and college-aged kids, as well." The New York Times critic Joyce Millman said SpongeBob "is clever without being impenetrable to young viewers and goofy without boring grown-ups to tears. Its the most charming toon on television, and one of the weirdest. And its also good, clean fun, which makes sense because it is, after all, about a sponge." Millman wrote, "His relentless good cheer would be irritating if he werent so darned lovable and his world so excellently strange. Like Pee-wees Playhouse, SpongeBob joyfully dances on the fine line between childhood and adulthood, guilelessness and camp, the warped and the sweet."
Robert Thompson, a professor of communications and director of the Center for the Study of Popular Television at Syracuse University, told The New York Times
There is something kind of unique about leaned hard into kid-friendly physical humor and gross out moments that appealed to no one in particular". Episodes produced since the first film have been variously categorized by DVD Talk and DVD Verdict as "tedious", "boring" and "dreck", a "depressing plateau of mediocrity", and "laugh-skimpy".
5.1. Other media Kamp Koral: SpongeBobs Under Years
On February 14, 2019, it was announced that a SpongeBob SquarePants spin-off is in development. On June 4, it was announced it spinoff will be titled Kamp Koral. The plot will focus on a 10-year-old SpongeBob and his friends at the titular camp located in the Kelp Forest, where they spend the summer catching jellyfish, building campfires, and swimming in Lake Yuckymuck. It serves as a tie-in to the animated film The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run.
It was confirmed production of the series began in June 2019.
Nickelodeon animation head Ramsey Naito said of the series, "SpongeBob has an incredible universe to expand upon and the greenlight for Kamp Koral is a testament to the strength and longevity of these characters known and loved by generations of fans around the world." Like SpongeBob SquarePants, the series will be executive produced by Vincent Waller and Marc Ceccarelli. Kamp Koral will be produced using computer animation rather than the digital ink and paint animation used for SpongeBob SquarePants.
On February 19, 2020, it was announced that the series had an official title of Kamp Koral: SpongeBobs Under Years, and would be premiering in July 2020.
5.2. Other media Untitled Netflix spin-off series and films
In November 2019, a "music-based" Squidward television series was reported to be in development for Netflix. In early March 2020, ViacomCBS announced that it will be producing two spin-off films based on the series for the streaming service.
5.3. Other media Comic books
The 32-page bimonthly comic book series, SpongeBob Comics, was announced in November 2010 and debuted the following February. Before this, SpongeBob SquarePants comics had been published in Nickelodeon Magazine, and episodes of the television series had been adapted by Cine-Manga, but SpongeBob Comics was the first American comic book series devoted solely to SpongeBob SquarePants. It also served as SpongeBob SquarePants creator Stephen Hillenburgs debut as a comic book author. The series was published by Hillenburgs production company, United Plankton Pictures, and distributed by Bongo Comics Group. Hillenburg described the stories from the comic books as "original and always true to the humor, characters, and universe of the SpongeBob SquarePants series." Leading up to the release of the series, Hillenburg said, "Im hoping that fans will enjoy finally having a SpongeBob comic book from me."
Chris Duffy, the former senior editor of Nickelodeon Magazine, serves as managing editor of SpongeBob Comics. Hillenburg and Duffy met with various cartoonists - including James Kochalka, Hilary Barta, Graham Annable, Gregg Schigiel, and Jacob Chabot - to contribute to each issues. Retired horror comics writer and artist Stephen R. Bissette returned to write a special Halloween issue in 2012, with Tony Millionaire and Al Jaffee. In an interview with Tom Spurgeon, Bissette said, "Ive even broken my retirement to do one work-for-hire gig so I could share everything about that kind of current job."
In the United Kingdom, Titan Magazines published comics based on SpongeBob SquarePants every four weeks from February 3, 2005, through November 28, 2013. Titan Magazines also teamed up with Lego to release a limited edition SpongeBob -themed comic.
5.4. Other media Films
Paramount Pictures and Nickelodeon Movies produced The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie, an animated film adaptation of the series released on November 19, 2004. The film was directed by Hillenburg, and written by long-time series writers Derek Drymon, Tim Hill, Kent Osborne, Aaron Springer, Paul Tibbitt, and Hillenburg. He and Julia Pistor produced the film, while Gregor Narholz composed the films score. The film is about Planktons evil plan to steal King Neptunes crown and send it to Shell City. SpongeBob and Patrick must retrieve it and save Mr. Krabs life from Neptunes raft and their home, Bikini Bottom, from Planktons plan. It features guest appearances by Jeffrey Tambor as King Neptune, Scarlett Johansson as the Kings daughter Mindy, Alec Baldwin as Dennis, and David Hasselhoff as himself, and received a positive critical reception, It grossed over $140 million worldwide.
Three television films were released: SpongeBobs Atlantis SquarePants in 2007, SpongeBobs Truth or Square in 2009, and SpongeBobs Big Birthday Blowout in 2019.
A sequel to the 2004 film, The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water, was released in theaters on February 6, 2015. The series main cast members reprised their roles. The underwater parts are animated traditionally in the manner of the series - the live-action parts use CGI animation with the SpongeBob characters. The film has a budget similar to the previous film and cost less than $100 million to produce.
On April 30, 2015, Viacom announced a third film was in development. In April 2018, Tim Hill was named as director, and the films original title, Its a Wonderful Sponge, was revealed. Paramount originally scheduled a release date of July 17, 2020, later moving it earlier to May 22, 2020. In October 2018, it was announced the movie will be an origin story of how SpongeBob came to Bikini Bottom and how he got his square pants. Around the same time, it was announced that Hans Zimmer will compose the music. The first poster along with a title change to Sponge on the Run was revealed on November 12, 2019, with the first trailer releasing on November 14.
5.5. Other media Music
Collections of original music featured in the series have been released on the albums SpongeBob SquarePants: Original Theme Highlights 2001, SpongeBobs Greatest Hits 2009, and The Yellow Album 2005. The first two charted on the US Billboard 200, reaching number 171 and 122, respectively. Several songs have been recorded for the purpose of a single or album release, and have not been featured on the show. For example, the song "My Tidy Whities" written by Tom Kenny and Andy Paley was released only on the album The Best Day Ever 2006. Kennys inspiration for the song was "underwear humor", saying: "Underwear humor is always a surefire laugh-getter with kids. Just seeing a character that odd wearing really prosaic, normal, Kmart, three-to-a-pack underwear is a funny drawing. We thought it was funny to make a really lush, beautiful love song to his underwear". A soundtrack album The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie – Music from the Movie and More., featuring the movies score was released along with the feature-length film in November 2004. Various artists including the Flaming Lips, Wilco, Ween, Motorhead, the Shins, and Avril Lavigne contributed to the soundtrack that reached number 76 on the US Billboard 200.
5.6. Other media Theme park rides
The SpongeBob SquarePants 4-D film and ride opened at several locations including Six Flags Over Texas, Flamingo Land Resort, and the Shedd Aquarium. The ride features water squirts, real bubbles, and other sensory enhancements. In 2012, Nickelodeon teamed up again with SimEx-Iwerks Entertainment and Super 78 to produce SpongeBob SquarePants 4-D: The Great Jelly Rescue. The attraction opened in early 2013 at the Mystic Aquarium & Institute for Exploration. It was also installed at the Nickelodeon Suites Resort Orlando in Orlando, Florida. The seven-minute film follows SpongeBob, Patrick, and Sandy up to their old hijinks, while rescuing the jellyfish of Jellyfish Fields from Planktons evil clutches.
SpongeBob SquarePants appears at the Mall of Americas Nickelodeon theme park re-branded from the Mall of Americas Park at MOA, formerly Camp Snoopy, to Nickelodeon Universe in the Minneapolis-St. Paul suburb of Bloomington, Minnesota. The new theme park features a SpongeBob-themed Gerstlauer Euro-Fighter custom roller coaster. The SpongeBob SquarePants Rock Bottom Plunge, which opened March 15, 2008, has replaced the Mystery Mine Ride and Olde Time Photo store at the west end of the theme park.
On May 23, 2015, an interactive 3D show titled SpongeBob SubPants Adventure opened in Texas at Moody Gardens. According to Moody Gardens President and CEO John Zendt, "Visitors will be able to interact with the Nickelodeon characters on a digital stage as they have never been able to do before."
5.7. Other media Video games
Numerous video games based on the series have been produced. Some of the early games include: Legend of the Lost Spatula 2001 and SpongeBob SquarePants: Battle for Bikini Bottom 2003. The 2003 video game was added to the PlayStation Greatest Hits by Sony. Its game engine served as the engine for a video game based on The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie. Heavy Iron Studios, the games developers, tweaked the graphics to give the game a sharper and more imaginative look than that of Battle for Bikini Bottom. They also increased the polygon count, added several racing levels, and incorporated many of the creatures seen in the film. In 2013, Nickelodeon published and distributed SpongeBob Moves In!, a freemium city-building game app developed by Kung Fu Factory for iOS and Android.
5.8. Other media SpongeBob SquareShorts
Nickelodeon launched the first global SpongeBob SquarePants -themed short film competition, SpongeBob SquareShorts: Original Fan Tributes, in 2013. The contest encouraged fans and filmmakers around the world to create original short films inspired by SpongeBob for a chance to win a prize and a trip for four people to a screening event in Hollywood. The contest opened on May 6 and ran through June 28, 2013. On July 19, 2013, Nickelodeon announced the competitions finalists, and, on August 13, 2013, the under 18 years of age category was won by David of the United States for his The Krabby Commercial, while the Finally Home short by Nicole of South Africa won the 18 and over category.
5.9. Other media Theater
SpongeBob SquarePants was adapted as a stage musical in 2016 by director Tina Landau. SpongeBob SquarePants, The Broadway Musical premiered in Chicago in 2016 and opened on Broadway at the Palace Theatre on December 4, 2017. The musical opened to critical acclaim, and tied for most-nominated production at the 2018 72nd Tony Awards with twelve Tony nominations.
The popularity of SpongeBob SquarePants inspired merchandise from T-shirts to posters. It was reported that the franchise generated an estimated $8 billion in merchandising revenue for Nickelodeon. It is also the most distributed property of MTV Networks. SpongeBob is viewed in 170 countries speaking 24 languages, and has become "a killer merchandising app". The title character and his friends have been used as a theme for special editions of well-known family board games, including Monopoly, Life, and Operation, as well as a SpongeBob SquarePants edition of Ants in the Pants, and Yahtzee.
In 2001, Nickelodeon signed a marketing deal with Target Corporation and Burger King, expanding its merchandising. The popularity of SpongeBob has translated well into sales. In 2002, SpongeBob SquarePants dolls sold at a rate of 75.000 per week - faster than Tickle Me Elmo dolls were selling at the time. SpongeBob has gained popularity in Japan, specifically with Japanese women. Nickelodeons parent company Viacom purposefully targeted marketing at women there. Skeptics initially doubted that SpongeBob could be popular in Japan, as the characters design is very different from already popular designs for Hello Kitty and Pikachu. Ratings and merchandise sales showed SpongeBob SquarePants has caught on with parents and with college audiences. In a 2013 promotion, college-oriented website Music.com gave away 80.000 SpongeBob T-shirts, four times more than during a similar promotion for Comedy Centrals South Park.
Kids meal tie-ins have been released in fast food restaurants in many parts of the world, including Burger King in Europe and North America, as well as Wendys in North America, and Hungry Jacks in Australia. A McDonalds Happy Meal tie-in with SpongeBob-themed Happy Meal boxes and toys was released in Europe and other international markets in the summer of 2007. In Australia, the advertisement for the McDonalds SpongeBob Happy Meal won the Pester Power Award because the ads enticed young children to want its food because of the free toy. As a tie-in beverage for the DVD release of The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie, 7-Eleven released the limited edition Under-the-Sea Pineapple Slurpee in March 2004. Pirates Booty released limited edition SpongeBob SquarePants Pirates Booty snacks in 2013.
In 2007, high-end SpongeBob -themed electronics were introduced by Imation Electronics Products under the Npower brand, including MP3 players, digital cameras, a DVD player, and a flatscreen television. Pictures of SpongeBob SquarePants began to appear on the labels of 8 ounce cans of Green Giant cut green beans and packages of frozen Green Giant green beans and butter sauce in 2007, which featured free stickers. This was part of an initiative to encourage kids to eat their vegetables. The Simmons Jewelry Co. released a $75.000 diamond pendant as part of a SpongeBob collection. In New Zealand, the UK-based Beechdean Group unveiled the SpongeBob SquarePants Vanilla Ice Cream character product as part of a license deal with Nickelodeon. NZ Drinks launched the SpongeBob SquarePants bottled water.
Build-A-Bear Workshop introduced the new SpongeBob SquarePants collection in stores and online in North America on May 17, 2013. Shoppers can dress their SpongeBob and Patrick plush in a variety of clothing and accessories. Sandy Cheeks and Gary the Snail are also available as pre-stuffed minis. Build-A-Bear Workshop stores nationwide celebrated the arrival of SpongeBob with a series of special events from May 17 through May 19.
On July 13, 2013, Toyota, with Nickelodeon, unveiled a SpongeBob -inspired Toyota Highlander. The 2014 Toyota Highlander was launched on SpongeBob Day at the San Diego Padres v. Giants game. The SpongeBob Toyota Highlander visited seven U.S. locations during its release, including the Nickelodeon Suites Resort Orlando in Florida.
In April 2019, Nickelodeon released a series of toys adapted from various SpongeBob Internet memes. These included "Handsome Squidward", "Imaginaaation SpongeBob", "Mocking SpongeBob", "SpongeGar", and "Surprised Patrick". Shortly after the release of the line, most of the toys sold out on Amazon.com.