In 1993, Nickelodeon forged a two-year contract with 20th Century Fox to make feature films. The joint venture would mostly produce new material, though a Nickelodeon executive did not rule out the possibility of making films based on The Ren & Stimpy Show, Rugrats and Doug. The contract expired in 1995 with no movies produced. By then, Nickelodeon's parent company, Viacom, had already merged with Paramount Communications. Paramount Pictures would distribute the movies instead.
Nickelodeon Movies was then founded in 1995. On July 10, 1996, the studio released its first film, Harriet the Spy, a spy-comedy-drama film based on the 1964 novel of the same name.
On July 25, 1997, the studio then released another film, Good Burger, a comedy film, starring Kenan Thompson and Kel Mitchell. It was based on the Good Burger sketch on Nickelodeon's popular sketch comedy series All That. Plans for an Aaahh!!! Real Monsters movie were produced around the same time, but never materialized.
On November 20, 1998, the studio released The Rugrats Movie, Nickelodeon Movies' first animated film based on a Nicktoon. The film stars the original show's voice cast, as well as series voice cast member Tara Strong as Dil Pickles, a new rugrat, and guest-stars Tim Curry as Rex Pester, a greedy news reporter, and David Spade as Ranger Frank, Whoopi Goldberg as Ranger Margaret, two forest rangers and rapper Busta Rhymes as the voice of the Reptar Wagon, Stu Pickles' latest invention. This film received mixed critical reception. Despite this, the movie became a box office success, earning $100,494,675 in the domestic box office and $140,894,675 worldwide. It also became the first non-Disney animated film to gross over $100 million domestically and was the studio's first film to receive a G rating from the MPAA. The success of the film led to it receiving two sequels.
On February 11, 2000, the studio released Snow Day, a comedy film starring Chevy Chase, Chris Elliott, Zena Grey, Josh Peck and Emmanuelle Chriqui. This film met negative reviews, yet grossed $62,464,731 worldwide.
Nine months later, the studio released Rugrats in Paris: The Movie on November 17, 2000. It is the first sequel to The Rugrats Movie, and grossed $76,507,756 at the domestic box-office and $103,291,131 worldwide. The critical reception met with favorable reviews, becoming the most acclaimed Rugrats film to date. It stars the series' original cast members, along with Tara Strong, once again, and guest starring Susan Sarandon as Coco Labouche, a cruel and child-hating director at EuroReptarland in Paris, John Lithgow as Jean-Claude, Coco's partner, and new cast members, Dionne Quan as Kimi Finster, Kira's naive and fearless daughter, she becomes Chuckie's stepsister as the newest rugrat, and Julia Kato as Kira Watanabe, Coco's assistant and Kimi's mother.
On December 21, 2001, the studio released its first CGI animated film, Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius. It is based on a series of shorts that aired on Nickelodeon in 1998. It became a critical and box-office success, earning $80,936,232 in the United States and $102,992,536 worldwide. It stars voice actors Debi Derryberry, Rob Paulsen, Carolyn Lawrence, Jeffrey Garcia, and Candi Milo, and co-starred Martin Short and Patrick Stewart. On March 24, 2002, this movie was nominated for the first Academy Award for Best Animated Feature, but lost to Shrek. It is the first Nickelodeon film to be nominated for an Academy Award. The success of the film spawned this film into a TV series, The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius, which aired on Nickelodeon from 2002 to 2006.
On March 29, 2002, the studio released Clockstoppers, a sci-fi action film, starring Jesse Bradford, Paula Garcés, and French Stewart. This film received negative reviews and was a minor box office success, only earning $36,989,956 in the United States and $38,793,283 worldwide.
On June 28, 2002, Nickelodeon Movies released, Hey Arnold!: The Movie, starring the series's original cast members and guest starring Paul Sorvino as Scheck, the CEO of a real estate company called Future Tech Industries (FTi). The film received negative reviews and was a box office flop, it only grossed $15.2 million and had a budget of $3 million. It was originally going to be a TV film, entitled, Arnold Saves the Neighborhood, but executives of Paramount Pictures decided to release this film theatrically. It was the first animated film from Nickelodeon to get a PG rating.
In 2002 and 2003, the studio, along with Klasky Csupo released two films based on popular TV shows, The Wild Thornberrys Movie and Rugrats Go Wild, respectively. The Wild Thornberrys Movie was released on December 20, 2002, starring the show's original cast members, Lacey Chabert, Tim Curry, Jodi Carlisle, Danielle Harris, Michael "Flea" Balzary, and Tom Kane. This film received positive reviews, and was a box office success. It only grossed $40.1 million domestically and $60.7 million worldwide. On March 23, 2003, this film was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Song.
Rugrats Go Wild was later released on June 13, 2003, once again starring the series's original cast members, with new guest stars, Chrissie Hynde as Siri the clouded leopard, Tony Jay, Ethan Phillips, and Bruce Willis as Spike's speaking voice. This film met with mixed critical reception and was a minor box office success, unlike previous Rugrats movies, only earning $39.4 million in the United States and $55.4 million worldwide. This film is also the only Rugrats film to receive a PG rating.
On November 19, 2004, Nickelodeon released The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie, an adventure comedy film based on the popular Nickelodeon television series, SpongeBob SquarePants. The film was directed by the series' creator, Stephen Hillenburg, and stars the show's voice cast of Tom Kenny, Bill Fagerbakke, Clancy Brown, Rodger Bumpass, Mr. Lawrence, and guest starring Jeffrey Tambor as King Neptune, the king of the sea who accused Mr. Krabs of stealing the crown, which is actually Plankton, Scarlett Johansson as Mindy, a mermaid who helped SpongeBob and Patrick's journey to save Neptune's crown, Alec Baldwin as Dennis, a hit man hired by Plankton to stop SpongeBob and Patrick from retrieving the crown, and features David Hasselhoff as himself. This film grossed $85.4 million in the United States $140.2 million worldwide. The success of this film spawned this film led to it receiving a sequel, adapted into various media, including its own video game, soundtrack, books, toy line, and, eventually, continued the series's run, whereas the series was renewed for a fourth season. However, the series' creator Stephen Hillenburg left the show, with Paul Tibbitt taking over the series' duty, but Hillenburg still served as the executive producer.
With the release of The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie, Nickelodeon Movies returned to making box-office hits. The studio purchased the film rights of the A Series of Unfortunate Events book series in May 2000. Paramount Pictures, owner of Nickelodeon Movies, agreed to co-finance, along with Scott Rudin. Various directors, including Terry Gilliam and Roman Polanski, were interested in making the film. One of author Daniel Handler's favorite candidates was Guy Maddin. In June 2002, Barry Sonnenfeld was hired to direct. He was chosen because he had previously collaborated with Rudin and because of his black comedy directing style as seen in The Addams Family, Addams Family Values and Get Shorty. Sonnenfeld referred to the Lemony Snicket books as his favorite children's stories. The director hired Handler to write the script with the intention of making Lemony Snicket as a musical, and cast Jim Carrey as Count Olaf in September 2002. Sonnenfeld eventually left over budget concerns in January 2003 and director Brad Silberling took over. This film was released on December 17, 2004, a month after The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie was released. It became a huge box office success, earning $118,634,549 at the United States box office and $209,073,645 worldwide. This film won an Academy Award for Best Makeup in 2005.
In 2005, the studio and Paramount Classics purchased a documentary film, Mad Hot Ballroom, at the 2005 Slamdance Film Festival in Park City, Utah. It became the studios' first (and, so far, only) documentary film and their only film to have a limited theatrical release. It grossed $8,117,961 in the United States and $9,079,042 worldwide. It also was a huge critical success.
Several months later, the studio and Paramount Pictures released their first co-production with both Columbia Pictures and Metro Goldwyn Mayer and released a family comedy film, Yours, Mine and Ours, a remake of the 1968 film of the same name. This film stars Dennis Quaid and Rene Russo. This film was critically panned, but was a modest box office success, earning $53,412,862 in the United States and $72,028,752 worldwide.
On June 16, 2006, Nickelodeon released the wrestling comedy film Nacho Libre. It is very loosely based on the story of Fray Tormenta. This film stars Jack Black, Héctor Jiménez, and Ana de la Reguera. This film met with mixed critical reception, but was a box office success, earning $80,197,993 in the domestic box office and grossed $99,255,460 worldwide. A sequel to this film is being considered.
Two months later, the studio released another CGI film, Barnyard: The Original Party Animals, starring the voices of Kevin James, as Otis, a carefree bull who loves throwing parties, David Koechner as Dag, a red coyote, Sam Elliott as Ben, Otis' father and the leader of the barnyard, and voice actors Jeff Garcia, S. Scott Bullock, Maurice LaMarche, John DiMaggio, and Rob Paulsen. This film met with negative critical reception, but was a box office success, earning $72,637,803 at the United States box office and grossed $116,476,887 worldwide. Like Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius, the film's success has spawned into a TV show, Back at the Barnyard, which ran from 2007 to 2011 on Nickelodeon, longer than The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius. Chris Hardwick replaced Kevin James as the role for Otis.
On December 15, 2006, the studio released Charlotte's Web, a family drama film based on E. B. White's popular book of the same name, starring Dakota Fanning, Kevin Anderson, Beau Bridges, and the voices of Dominic Scott Kay, Julia Roberts, Steve Buscemi, John Cleese, Oprah Winfrey, and Cedric the Entertainer. This film became a critical and box office success, earning $82,985,708 in the United States and $144,877,632 worldwide. This is Nickelodeon's first G-rated film in five years and is the studio's highest-grossing film with that rating. Dakota Fanning won a Blimp Award for Favorite Movie Actress at the 2007 Kids' Choice Awards.
Two years later on February 14, 2008, the studio released The Spiderwick Chronicles, a fantasy drama film based on the bestselling book of the same name, starring Freddie Highmore, Sarah Bolger, Mary-Louise Parker, Martin Short, Nick Nolte, and Seth Rogen. This film was released in both regular and IMAX theaters and received favorable reviews and was a box office success, earning $71,195,053 in the United States and $162,839,667 outside of the United States.
On July 28, 2008, Paramount Pictures and Nickelodeon Movies released a coming-of-age comedy film, Angus, Thongs, and Perfect Snogging, based on two bestselling British novels by Louise Rennison, Angus, Thongs and Full-Frontal Snogging and It's OK, I'm Wearing Really Big Knickers. This film met with positive and was a box office success, however, it was released in theaters in the United Kingdom, earning £8,647,770 and grossed £13,835,569 worldwide. To date, it has a direct-to-DVD release in the United States and has made its U.S. premiere on Nick at Nite on March 12, 2009.
On January 16, 2009, Hotel for Dogs was released, starring Emma Roberts and Jake T. Austin. It is based on the 1971 novel of the same name by Lois Duncan. This film received mixed reviews from film critics, but was a box office success, earning $73,034,460 in the United States box office and grossed $117,000,198 worldwide. It is distributed by DreamWorks. This marks the first film from Nickelodeon to be distributed outside of Paramount Pictures. However, it is still distributed under Paramount.
Five months later on June 12, 2009, Paramount Pictures reunited with Nickelodeon Movies and released Imagine That, a comedy-drama film starring Eddie Murphy, Thomas Haden Church, Nicole Ari Parker, Martin Sheen, Marin Hinkle, and Yara Shahidi. This film received mixed reviews, mainly criticizing Murphy's performance, and earned him a Golden Raspberry Award nomination for Worst Actor in 2010, only to lose to The Jonas Brothers' performances in Jonas Brothers: The 3D Concert Experience as themselves. It was also a box office failure, only earning $16,123,323 at the domestic box office and grossed only $22,985,194 worldwide.
On January 8, 2007; Paramount Pictures and Nickelodeon Movies announced that they had signed M. Night Shyamalan to write, direct and produce a trilogy of live-action films based on the Avatar: The Last Airbender series, the first of which would encompass the main characters' adventures in Book One. This film was later released in theaters in 3D on July 1, 2010 and was universally panned by critics, fans, and even from audiences that weren't familiar with the TV series. This was the studio's first feature film released in 3-D. On its opening day in the United States, The Last Airbender made $16 million, ranking fifth overall for Thursday openings. Despite negative critical reception, the film was a box office success, and grossed $131,601,062 in the United States box office, also grossed $187,340,196 in other countries, making for a total of $318,941,258 worldwide.
On March 4, 2011, Nickelodeon Movies released Rango, a CGI-animated western comedy film, directed by Gore Verbinski and starring Johnny Depp, Isla Fisher, Bill Nighy, Abigail Breslin, Alfred Molina, Harry Dean Stanton, Ray Winstone, Timothy Olyphant and Ned Beatty. The film was produced by Gore Verbinski's production company Blind Wink, and Graham King's GK Films. The CGI animation was created by Industrial Light & Magic (ILM), marking its first full-length animated feature. ILM usually does visual effects for live-action films. It is also the first animated film for Verbinski. During voice recording, the actors received costumes and sets to "give them the feel of the Wild West"; star Johnny Depp had 20 days in which to voice Rango and the filmmakers scheduled the supporting actors to interact with him. Verbinski said his attempt with Rango was to do a "small" film after the large-scale Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy, but that he underestimated how painstaking and time-consuming animated filmmaking is. This film has met universal acclaim from critics and general audiences alike and won an Academy Award for Best Animated Feature. The success of Rango led Paramount to create its own animation studio, Paramount Animation.
Nine months later, Paramount Pictures and Nickelodeon Movies partnered with Columbia Pictures once again and released The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn, a performance-captured animated 3D film, directed by director Steven Spielberg and produced by Peter Jackson, based on three of the comic book series of the same name by Hergé, The Crab with the Golden Claws (1941), The Secret of the Unicorn (1943), and Red Rackham's Treasure (1944). This film was released in 3D and IMAX 3D theaters, as well normal "2D" theaters, and earned $77,591,831 in North America and $296,402,120 in other territories, for a worldwide total of $373,993,951. It also was studio's first animated film to be shown in 3D. John Williams, the composer for the film, was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Score. This film became the first non-Pixar film to win a Golden Globe Award for Best Animated Feature Film, beating Cars 2, and is the first Nickelodeon film to do so.
On February 28, 2012, a sequel to The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie titled The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water was announced to be in production, and was scheduled to be released in 2015.Philippe Dauman, the president and CEO of the studio's parent company Viacom, told sources:
"We will be releasing a SpongeBob movie at the end of 2014, which will serve to start off or be one of our films that starts off our new animation effort."
Dauman also once again said that the Paramount animation productions will be a new opportunity for his company as they will each cost less than $100 million, and the animation unit will only have 30 to 40 people, allowing for good financial returns and profits. Thanks to modern technology, the films still look "great" despite the lower cost, he said. He also lauded his studio team for winning an animation Oscar for Rango, the studio's first fully owned CGI effort. "We're very proud of that," he said.
The sequel was directed by Paul Tibbitt, written by Jonathan Aibel and Glenn Berger, produced by Mary Parent, and executive-produced by the series' creator, Stephen Hillenburg. The series' cast members reprised their roles from the first film. The sequel was animated using the same animation style (traditional animation) as the TV show was.
In 2012, following the news of the Viacom buyout of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles franchise, it was announced that Nickelodeon would produce a new film through Paramount Pictures with an expected release date sometime in 2012. In late May 2011, it was announced that Paramount and Nickelodeon had brought Michael Bay and his Platinum Dunes partners Brad Fuller and Andrew Form on to produce the next film that would reboot the film series. Bay, Fuller, and Form would produce alongside Walker and Mednick. For the script, the studio originally hired Art Marcum and Matt Holloway to write the film for close to a million dollars. A year later the studio turned to writers Josh Appelbaum and André Nemec to rewrite the script. In February 2012, Jonathan Liebesman was brought into negotiations to direct the film. It was released on August 8, 2014.
The studio released a Halloween comedy film, Fun Size, which opened on October 26, 2012, starring Victoria Justice, Johnny Knoxville, and Thomas Mann. This film met with negative reviews, and was a box office failure. It grossed $11.4 million, and is the lowest wide-grossed film ever produced by Nickelodeon Movies.
A reboot of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles opened on August 8, 2014. It was the biggest opening weekend for any movie produced by Nickelodeon Movies, grossing over $65 million in its first three days of release in the United States. It has since become Nickelodeon Movies's highest-grossing movie domestically (in North America) and worldwide, with over $191 million domestically and a total of $493.3 million worldwide.
On February 6, 2015, The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water, the second film based on SpongeBob SquarePants, was released. The film grossed almost $163 million in the United States and $323.4 million worldwide, making it the third-most successful film produced by the studio.
On June 3, 2016, the studio released Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out Of The Shadows. This met mixed reviews, but grossed $240.6 million worldwide.
Nickelodeon Movies was initially involved in the film Monster Trucks, but was not listed as an involved division when billing was released by Paramount. On November 17, 2016, it was announced that Nickelodeon Movies was back in co-producing the film, as its logo was seen on the second trailer. It was released on January 13, 2017 as a critical and box-office disappointment.
In November 2011, Steven Spielberg announced a sequel to The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn, called The Adventures of Tintin: Prisoners of the Sun and is planned to be released in 2017. There are also plans for a third and fourth film, with Jamie Bell and Andy Serkis reprising the lead roles.
A sequel to The Spongebob Movie: Sponge Out of Water will be released in February 2019 to coincide with the 20th anniversary of SpongeBob SquarePants.
There is also an original feature called Amusement Park. As of March 2017, there is no information other than the cast and release date and the fact that it will be a television series the following year on Nickelodeon. It will be released on July 13, 2018.
In January 2016, Paramount announced that Jared Hess would develop and direct a crossover film involving Nicktoons characters. Hess will co-write the film with his wife Jerusha, and Mary Parent and Cale Boyler will produce.