Let’s see if we can wrap our hurting heads around what’s going on with SpongeBob: Sponge On The Run – FIRST LOOK
But first a word of advice to studios: don’t make it so hard to understand when and where your movies are coming out. Entertainment is supposed to be fun, relaxing, not driving your customers to the medicine cabinet.
In January 2021, unless there’s another change, SpongeBob’s sequel will be released to VOD and shortly thereafter an exclusive on CBS All Access, but since CBS All Access isn’t available internationally, this left those abroad unable to view the movie. Netflix — internationally only — is stepping in, except for China.
The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run is now heading to the streaming service, allowing UK and international fans of the Bikini Bottom inhabitant to watch his latest adventure from the comfort of their own homes.New SpongeBob movie that skipped cinemas is coming to Netflix
So, Netflix is getting an international exclusive for the new SpongeBob movie in January 2021 (I think?), except for China and the US. In America we’ll get to see it on VOD on January 29, 2021 and shortly thereafter on CBS All Access. I’m not sure what the plan is for China, but maybe that is the plan — no plan for any kind of distribution in China.
Especially in our current times, I’m having enough challenges following the changing release dates in America, but this movie release plan is needlessly complex.
I sure hope this isn’t the path that other movies go down. Multiple different streaming services having exclusive premiere dates? Maybe it’s always been that way and I’m just late to the confusion party, but it’s a mess for people who follow movies, much less casual moviegoers who like SpongeBob and just want to see the freaking movie when it comes out … someday, somewhere.
What I don’t understand is why the movie decision not to have a theatrical release? Presumably in January 2021 movie theaters will be reopened. Are they possibly thinking they’ll make more money going straight to VOD like Trolls World Tour did? I’m all in favor of day and date releases for some movies, yes, but skipping theatrical release when you could have one internationally seems misguided.
It seems like Paramount is missing an opportunity to show the movie in theaters worldwide and then can cut up the streaming release premieres thereafter however it wants. It’s the most convoluted movie release we’ve encountered to date.
In June, Deadline explained more of the plan with CBS All Access.
ViacomCBS is using the movie as part of a big-rebranding of CBS All Access in early 2021, also making previous seasons of SpongeBob Squarepants available on the expanded service.‘SpongeBob Movie: Sponge On The Run’ Will Play In Homes Instead Of Movie Theaters
Other than being an opportunity for branding and promotion of the SpongeBob TV series and movie brand in CBS limited geographic territory, I don’t completely understand what’s happening here.
Why didn’t Paramount just sell SpongeBob’s premiere distribution rights to Netflix from the beginning like The Lovebirds and also to CBS All Access shortly thereafter? Instead it’s almost like they didn’t want to release the movie — ever — in China? Is that what is happening? Or did CBS come with an amazing deal for the United States that Paramount couldn’t say no and Netflix wouldn’t pay up for premiere licensing in America (seems unlikely considering they are ponying up over $200 million for an action film franchise from the Russo brothers)? Did Paramount realize, oh no, we have to release this to other countries? How do we do it? Could Paramount management possibly be this short-sighted?
Bottom line: SpongeBob: Sponge On The Run in the United States as of this writing won’t be available to watch until January 29, 2021 on VOD first, then CBS All Access soon thereafter (no specific date mentioned). International readers, except those in China, will be able to see it on Netflix … perhaps sooner? (this seems to be the inference, but no confirmed date) From my limited research this morning, I don’t see any mentioned release date for Netflix international (except for China), probably because they haven’t announced that yet (they don’t mention many of their release dates that far in advance).
Let’s all hope more movies don’t choose convoluted premiere releases like our good friend, SpongeBob. Seriously, Paramount.