The film was written by Jonathan Aibel and Glenn Berger from a story conceived by Tibbitt and SpongeBob SquarePants creator Stephen Hillenburg. Like the first film, the final act places the animated characters in a live-action world. These scenes were shot in various locations throughout Savannah, Georgia and Tybee Island. Filming began on October 9, 2013 and completed in November 2013. The film is dedicated to Ernest Borgnine, the original voice of Mermaid Man who died in 2012.
A pirate named Burger-Beard travels to Bikini Atoll, where he obtains a magical book with the power to make any text written upon it real. The book tells the story of SpongeBob SquarePants and his adventures in the underwater city of Bikini Bottom. SpongeBob loves his job as a fry cook at the Krusty Krab fast food restaurant, where he cooks burgers called Krabby Patties and works for Mr. Krabs. He has spent years guarding the secret Krabby Patty formula from Plankton, the owner of a competing restaurant called the Chum Bucket.
One day, Plankton attacks the Krusty Krab in an attempt to steal the formula. After a military battle involving giant foods and condiments, Plankton feigns surrender. He uses a decoy of himself to give Mr. Krabs a fake penny, which the real Plankton then hides inside in order to gain access to Krab's vault. As the decoy distracts Mr. Krabs, Plankton steals the formula, leaving a fake in its place. SpongeBob catches Plankton and the two engage in a tug of war over the formula, which magically vanishes before anyone can claim it.
When all of Bikini Bottom turns on Plankton, SpongeBob creates a giant soap bubble for them to fly away in. SpongeBob is the only one who believes Plankton is innocent of stealing the formula, and without the secret formula, Krabby Patties can't be made, causing the customers to become ravenous. Bikini Bottom is immediately reduced to an apocalyptic wasteland due to the absence of the much-relied-on Krabby Patty. A page of the book is discarded in the ocean and lands on Sandy Cheeks' treedome and assumes the page is a sign from the "sandwich gods". SpongeBob proposes he and Plankton team up to find the formula. SpongeBob tries to explain the concept of teamwork to Plankton, who does not quite understand. Together, they decide to travel back in time to the moment before the formula disappeared, and the two head to the Chum Bucket to rescue Karen, who they intend to help power a time machine. They assemble the machine at an abandoned taco restaurant and end up traveling far into the future, where they meet Bubbles, a magical dolphin who acts as an overseer of the galaxy, and inadvertently get him fired. SpongeBob and Plankton succeed in retrieving the formula, but it turns out to be the fake one Plankton had left.
Burger-Beard converts his pirate ship into a food truck to sell Krabby Patties at a beach community. Sandy suggests a sacrifice be made to appease the gods. As the town attempts to sacrifice SpongeBob, he and Mr. Krabs smell Krabby Patties. The townsfolk follow the scent, which leads to the surface; Bubbles returns and reveals he hated his job. He thanks SpongeBob by granting him and his sea creature friends the ability to breathe on land; Plankton also joins by stowing away in SpongeBob's sock. Bubbles launches SpongeBob and the others out of his blowhole to the surface.
The team soon lands on a beach and finds the source of the Krabby Patty scent: Burger-Beard's food truck. Burger Beard reveals he stole the formula by using the book to rewrite the story and then uses it to banish the gang to Pelican Island. SpongeBob uses the book's page to transform himself and the others into superheroes with special powers – The Invincibubble (SpongeBob), Mr. Superawesomeness (Patrick), Sour Note (Squidward), The Rodent (Sandy), and Sir Pinch-a-Lot (Mr. Krabs). They return and find Burger-Beard, who runs away with the formula, forcing the team to give chase. During the ensuing battle, the team manages to destroy the book, but Burger-Beard overpowers them one by one.
Having been left on Pelican Island, Plankton becomes a muscle-bound hero named Plank-Ton and comes to assist them. Plankton and SpongeBob create one final attack to defeat Burger-Beard and retrieve the formula. After sending Burger-Beard flying to Bikini Atoll, Plankton returns the formula to Mr. Krabs, having learned the value of teamwork. The gang uses the final page's magic to return home to Bikini Bottom. With Krabby Patties back, the city is finally return to normal and Plankton re-assumes his role as business rival. At the atoll, a frame is carried by seagulls, thus starting the theme song. This explains who Painty the Pirate is, and that is Burger-Beard.Tom Kenny as the voice of SpongeBob SquarePants / The Invincibubble and Gary the Snail
Antonio Banderas as Burger-Beard the Pirate
Clancy Brown as the voice of Mr. Krabs / Sir Pinch-a-Lot, SpongeBob and Squidward's boss
Rodger Bumpass as the voice of Squidward Tentacles / Sour Note, SpongeBob's coworker
Bill Fagerbakke as the voice of Patrick Star / Mr. Superawesomeness, SpongeBob's neighbor and best friend
Mr. Lawrence as the voice of Plankton / Plank-Ton, Mr. Krabs' arch-rival and Karen's husband
Jill Talley as the voice of Karen, Plankton's sentient computer sidekick and wife
Carolyn Lawrence as the voice of Sandy Cheeks / The Rodent, a squirrel from Texas
Mary Jo Catlett as the voice of Mrs. Puff, SpongeBob's boating school teacher
Lori Alan as the voice of Pearl Krabs, a teenage whale who is Mr. Krabs' daughter
Matt Berry as the voice of Bubbles, a time-traveling dolphin
Riki Lindhome and Kate Micucci as the voices of Popsicles
Dee Bradley Baker as the voice of Perch Perkins and other fish characters
Nolan North as the voice of Pigeon Cabbie
Paul Tibbitt (US), Joe Sugg (UK) and Robert C. Irwin (Australia) as the voice of Kyle the Seagull
Peter Shukoff as Painty the Pirate
The seagulls were voiced by Peter Shukoff, Lloyd Ahlquist, Carlos Alazraqui, Eric Bauza, Tim Conway, Eddie Deezen, Nolan North, Rob Paulsen, Kevin Michael Richardson, April Stewart, Cree Summer, Billy West, Alan Carr (UK), Caspar Lee (UK) and Stacey Solomon (UK). Slash appeared in a trailer for the movie. The scene was deleted from the film, but it can be seen on the special features on Blu-ray release of the film.
Following the release of The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie in 2004, producer Julia Pistor stated that a sequel film was unlikely, despite the film's successful box office performance. In a 2009 interview with Digital Spy, SpongeBob SquarePants writer and executive producer Paul Tibbitt was asked about the possibility of a sequel. He said, "I think that they are talking about doing that, but I haven't signed up for anything. We just feel like we've told so many stories, and SpongeBob exists so well in this short 11-minute form." He further stated that making another film was "a huge challenge." However, Tibbitt denied that a sequel is not impossible to emerge, saying "I wouldn't say no, but I don't know if there will be another one." In 2010, Nickelodeon reportedly had been approaching the crews of the show to make another film adaptation. The network had long wanted to partner with Paramount Pictures to release another SpongeBob SquarePants film to help reinvigorate the series from its declining ratings. However, internal disagreement delayed collaborations.
On March 4, 2011, in an article by the Los Angeles Times, it was first reported that Paramount had "another SpongeBob picture" in development. Several months later, in July, Paramount formed its new animation unit, Paramount Animation, in the wake of the commercial and critical success of the 2011 computer-animated film Rango, and the departure of DreamWorks Animation upon completion of their distribution contract in 2012. Philippe Dauman, the president and CEO of Paramount and Nickelodeon's parent company Viacom, officially announced on February 28, 2012 that a sequel film was in development and slated for an unspecified 2014 release, saying that "We will be releasing a SpongeBob movie at the end of 2014." Dauman added that the film "will serve to start off or be one of our films that starts off our new animation effort." Nickelodeon expected the film to do much better in foreign box office than the 2004 feature, given its increasingly global reach. Dauman said, "This will continue to propel SpongeBob internationally."
Production was announced on June 10, 2014 under the title The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie 2, which some trade publications began referring to as SpongeBob SquarePants 2. The film's executive producer is series creator Stephen Hillenburg, who departed from the show as its showrunner in 2004 following the release of The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie. He no longer writes or runs the show on a day-to-day basis, but reviews each episode and delivers suggestions. However, in a 2012 interview with Thomas F. Wilson, Hillenburg stated that he was helping in writing the film. Tibbitt later revealed on Twitter in late 2013 that "Steve [Hillenburg] and I wrote the new movie together and he has been in the studio everyday working with us." Production on the film was expected to finish in November 2014. After production on the film finished, Hillenburg returned to the show as an executive producer, now having greater creative input and attending crew meetings.
The regular series main cast members returned to reprise their roles from the series and the previous 2004 film. In August 2013, casting directors from Marty Siu Casting began casting calls for the background extras for the live action scenes. On September 21, 2013, it was reported that Spanish actor Antonio Banderas had been cast for a live action role as Burger-Beard the pirate.
The animation for the film was handled overseas by Rough Draft Korea in South Korea. Creative supervisor Vincent Waller said, "We're getting animation back that is looking terrific." The sequel is a combination of traditional animation and live action as its predecessor was, and also used computer-generated imagery (CGI) handled by Iloura VFX in Melbourne, Australia to render the characters in 3D. Sherm Cohen returned to work on the sequel, when he previously worked on The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie as a character designer and the lead storyboard artist and left the show in 2005. Series animation directors Tom Yasumi and Alan Smart worked on the film's exposure sheets. Most of the character layout crew of the film are from the series.
In a preview of upcoming Paramount films held in 2012, it first exhibited the film as a "3D feature film" with "CGI-like animation". Following the release of the SpongeBob SquarePants 4-D: The Great Jelly Rescue, a 3D short film released in early 2013 at the Nickelodeon Suites Resort Orlando, executives also talked of perpetuating the 3D stereoscopy in the film. Director Tibbitt was asked on Twitter concerning what animation technique the film would have, and responded, "[I] don't wanna spoil anything but [it is] mostly 2D."
The film contains a stop-motion animation sequence by Screen Novelties. The company had previously produced a clay animation scene for the first film, the mixed-media opening for "Truth or Square", and the entirety of the stop-motion special It's a SpongeBob Christmas!
In March 2014, Paramount screened live action footage from the film during the National Association of Theatre Owners' CinemaCon. News websites report that the film would be CGI-animated, with an Internet Movie Database staff commenting, "When Paramount announced there would be a new SpongeBob SquarePants movie, the assumption was that it would be animated (like all other incarnations of SpongeBob). The very brief footage from tonight's presentation suggested otherwise – it looked as though this was a CGI/live-action hybrid akin to Alvin and the Chipmunks, Yogi Bear, The Smurfs, etc." In an article published by ComingSoon.net, author Edward Douglas wrote: "The CGI animation just looks weird." Philippe Dauman said that the CGI elements are intended to "refresh and give another boost" to the characters.
The film features live action scenes directed by Mike Mitchell. Filming began on September 30, 2013 and lasted through November 5, 2013, on various locations in Savannah, Georgia and Tybee Island. The Savannah Film Office first announced that the film would shoot live action scenes in Savannah for 40 days on July 11, 2013. Will Hammargren, location specialist for the Savannah Film Office, said the film was expected to contribute $8 million to the city's economy, including booking at least 5,600 hotel room nights.
On September 30, 2013, the start of production filming was interrupted when Jay Self was dismissed. According to a memorandum from Joe Shearouse, bureau chief of the leisure services department of Savannah, Self was fired for his "failure to properly plan and manage the arrangement for the movie." It accused Self of shortcomings surrounding the filming and also cited complaints from local residents of Savannah. Another reported reason for Self's dismissal was a disagreement between Paramount and the Savannah Film Office, about the deal of granting the local businesses to negotiate with Paramount for potential business losses during filming.
In preparing the filming location in the downtown, the film crew painted storefronts along Broughton Street to resemble a "beach community" called "Salty Shoals". Jay Self said, "They're trying to make it look like it's right at the seaside." The Jen Library and Trustees Theater, a landmark situated on Broughton Street, of the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) was converted into a sea museum. Paramount first approached SCAD to utilize the Jen Library for a scene back in August 2013. Once SCAD approved, the studio's art department transformed the buildings in choice for the film. It remained open to students during filming, while the "SCAD" letters atop Trustees remained untouched. Other establishments, like flower shops, convenience stores and coffeehouses, were converted to surfing, fudge and buoy shops, respectively. Self said, "The changes are temporary with all buildings scheduled to be restored to their original colors after filming is complete."
Filming began on October 9 in the downtown where parts of the Broughton Street between Montgomery Street and Habersham Street were closed through October 18. Prior to October 9, residents were given yellow flyers handed out by the production crew to detail the inconveniences of the filming would have on them. Actor Antonio Banderas appeared as a pirate and was filmed on a pirate ship with wheels for a car chase scene. At one point, a film crew member caused an accident that damaged a downtown building and rushed a woman to the Candler Hospital. William Hammargren, with the Savannah Film Services office, said that Paramount was issued a permit to use motorized vehicles within certain areas closed for filming, but the permit did not extend to the lanes.
Filming in the downtown ended on October 18, when a raffle was also held, with City Mayor Edna Jackson announcing the winners. The prizes include: a SpongeBob SquarePants-themed party, bicycles, a vacation at Marshall House, dinner at Savannah Bistro, gift certificates, and a 60-inch television. After filming in the downtown, the production received mixed response from local businesses located in filming areas. A concern raised by business owners was the choice in dates for shooting as October is "a big month for merchants along Broughton." Some merchants suggested February, July, or August as prime filming dates.
Filming for the scenes resumed on October 21 on Tybee Island. The producers of the film were permitted to film on Tybee Island after meetings held at the Tybee Island City Hall with businesses and residents that imposed concerns about the possible effects of the filming, and also apprehensions about sea turtle safety. Musician Slash of the band Guns N' Roses was seen on set at the Tybee Pier for filming, although he does not appear in the final film. The film crew later moved to Strand Avenue for a chase scene with extras on bicycles.
It was announced that Pharrell Williams would write a song for the film with his band N.E.R.D, which is titled "Squeeze Me". A five-song EP was released digitally on January 27, 2015. Peter Shukoff and Lloyd Ahlquist, otherwise known as Nice Peter and Epic Lloyd from the YouTube channel ERB (Epic Rap Battles of History), perform "Rap Battle" at the end of the movie along with their voice acting roles. It was the sixth album by SpongeBob SquarePants.
The original score for the film was composed by John Debney. On February 16, 2015, Debney announced via Twitter that Varèse Sarabande would release his score to the film digitally on March 23, 2015 in the UK and March 24, 2015 in the US, along with a physical release on March 31, 2015.
In March 2012, in regards to consumer products for the film, Dauman stated, "This will be a Nickelodeon-branded movie. We'll license the toys, but we own it." The film's first teaser poster was released on June 10, 2014, along with the announcement of its new title, The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water. The poster is a nod to the famous Coppertone sunscreen advertisements from the 1950s, in which a dog is seen pulling the bikini bottom off of a blonde girl.
At the San Diego Comic-Con International held on July 25, 2014, Paramount Pictures released the first footage from the film, as part of their presentation at Hall H, with Tom Kenny, SpongeBob's voice actor, hosting the panel. The film's trailer was released on July 31, 2014. Throughout the year, trailers and 15 second teaser posters of the movie were shown.
The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water was originally planned for a 2014 release to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the first film. However, Paramount Pictures announced on August 1st, 2013, in an article in The Hollywood Reporter, that the film would instead have its official wide release in theaters on February 13, 2015 in North America to avoid competition of the 2014 reboot of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. On June 5, 2014, the film's release date was moved up one week to February 6, 2015 in order to avoid competition with 20th Century Fox's Kingsman: The Secret Service and Universal Pictures' Fifty Shades of Grey, which premiered the following week. The film premiered on January 28, 2015 in Belgium and the Netherlands, and on January 30, 2015 in Iceland, Mexico, and Taiwan.
It was announced on February 24 that Paramount Pictures, in partnership with TG4, would release the film in the Irish language, alongside the English release. This marked the first time a major film studio released an Irish language version of a movie. SpongeBob - An Scannán: Spúinse as Uisce premiered in Ireland on March 27, 2015.
The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water was released on Digital HD on May 19, 2015. It was released on Blu-ray (2D and 3D) and DVD on June 2, 2015. The cover of the home media releases (excluding the Blu-ray 3D release) and digital releases is the principal theatrical poster. The only difference is that Plankton is on the cover as his super hero alter-ego, Plank-Ton.
The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water grossed $162.9 million in North America and $162.1 million in other territories for a total gross of $325.1 million worldwide, against a budget of $74 million. It outgrossed the first SpongeBob movie, which made $140.2 million worldwide, and is the second highest-grossing film based off an animated television show, behind The Simpsons Movie ($527.1 million).
Deadline.com calculated the net profit of the film to be $99.8 million, when factoring together all expenses and revenues for the film.
The film was originally expected to gross around $35 million in its opening weekend, however, the film exceeded expectations on its opening day. In its opening weekend the film grossed $55.4 million, playing in 3,641 theaters, with a $15,206 per-theatre average and finishing in first place at the box office. It beat out American Sniper, which grossed $23.3 million, marking the first time in four weeks a film other than American Sniper was the top-grossing film. In its second weekend, The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water earned $31.4 million, marking a 43.2% decline, and was overtaken by Fifty Shades of Grey and Kingsman: The Secret Service, dropping to number three. On its third weekend, the film stayed at number three, grossing $16.5 million. In its fourth weekend, the film was number three again, with $10.8 million.
A week ahead of North America release, the film was released in five markets for the three-day weekend of January 30 in other territories, and earned a gross of $8 million. $6.7 million of that came from a strong debut in Mexico. For its second weekend of February 6, 2015, the film earned itself a gross of $16.2 million playing in theaters of 25 markets. The film opened at #1 in Brazil and Spain by grossing $4.6 million and $1.9 million respectively, while maintaining the top spot at the box office of Mexico by earning $2.4 million. In the UK the film was released on March 27 in time for the Easter school holidays and opened at #3 behind Cinderella and Home.
On Rotten Tomatoes, the film scored an approval rating of 80% based on 100 reviews, with an average rating of 6.5/10. The site's critical consensus read, "The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water won't win over many viewers who aren't fans of the show, but for the converted, it's another colorful burst of manic fun." On Metacritic, the film scored of 62 out of 100, based on 27 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews". According to CinemaScore, audiences gave the film a grade of "B" on an A+ to F scale.
Andrew Barker of Variety praised the film for "never even feigning a lick of seriousness". Although he felt the film was too long and the CGI sequences to be inferior to the traditionally animated ones, he said the film would prove "popular among the franchise's key grade-schooler and head-shop-owner demographics." Michael Rechtshaffen of The Hollywood Reporter was more negative, saying the film's two animation styles failed "to create a cohesive whole in spite of all the inspired non sequiturs," stating "the live action/CG stuff never satisfyingly jibes with the traditional nautical nonsense down below." He opined that although the film was inferior to the first one, it would likely be a box office success. Barbara VanDenburgh of The Arizona Republic gave the film three and a half stars out of five, saying "The plot is straightforward, predictable and slight, no more intricate a plot than a 15-minute TV episode would have. It's the freewheeling madness of its execution that makes the movie such a trip - as in acid trip." Elizabeth Weitzman of the New York Daily News gave the film four out of five stars, saying "The spirit of the series remains true: cheerfully random jokes, blink-and-you'll-miss-them references and, above all, a silly, stubbornly sentimental streak that only the crabbiest cynic could dismiss." Colin Covert of the Star Tribune gave the film three out of five stars, saying "The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water weaves a silly - and often funny - spell. It's a scrappy little B-movie that zips along rather entertainingly." Jen Chaney of The Washington Post gave the film two out of four stars, saying "There's something about this project that, despite checking all of the requisite plot and sensibility boxes, doesn't convey as an organic work of SpongeBob-ishness."
Nicolas Rapold of The New York Times gave the film a positive review, saying "While less fluid and fresh than its 2004 predecessor, the new film displays enough nutty writing and sheer brio to confirm the stamina of its enduring and skillfully voiced characters." Gwen Ihnat of The A.V. Club gave the film a B+, saying "The visual effects and fast and furious quips combine for that rarest of releases: one that both parents and kids can enjoy (just like the show), leaving viewers of any age hoping that the next SpongeBob movie isn't an entire decade off." Alonso Duralde of The Wrap gave the film a positive review, saying "The jokes are consistently hilarious, with enough variety to tickle the funny bones of old salts and young fishies alike." Claudia Puig of USA Today gave the film two out of four stars, saying "The live-action elements — mostly in the person of Antonio Banderas as cranky pirate Burger Beard, who spends most of his time addressing a flock of seagulls — don't mesh seamlessly with the animated sequences. It almost feels like two movies awkwardly melded together." John Semley of The Globe and Mail gave the film two and a half stars out of four, saying "The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water mostly nails what has always made the character, and his brightly coloured underwater world, so endearing: the abundant innocence, the welcome lack of cynicism and the out-and-out stupidity." Christy Lemire of RogerEbert.com gave the film two and a half stars out of four, saying "The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water remains true to the surrealism of its animated television roots. But it also tries to force a live-action element which isn't as comfortable a fit as a certain pair of symmetrical trousers."
A video game featuring a plot set directly after the film, titled SpongeBob HeroPants, was released in North America on February 3, 2015 for the Nintendo 3DS, Xbox 360 and PlayStation Vita. The game is published by Activision. A mobile game, titled The SpongeBob Movie Game: Sponge on the Run, was released on January 22, 2015 for iOS and Android. It is an endless running game based on the film, featuring several mini games.
In a February 2015 interview discussing the film's financial success, Megan Collison, president of worldwide distribution and marketing at Paramount, stated the possibility of a third film was "a good bet". In another interview, Paramount vice chairman Rob Moore remarked, "Hopefully, it won't take 10 years to make another film." On April 30, 2015, via Twitter, Viacom announced a third SpongeBob SquarePants film was in development. On August 3, 2015, via Twitter, Vincent Waller confirmed that the sequel is in pre-production and that Paul Tibbitt was confirmed to return as director from a story by him and Kyle McCulloch. It was announced on November 2015, the film will be released in February 8, 2019, but the release date was move to unspecified for March 2019. On November 11, 2015, Waller confirmed via Twitter that the film will be mostly traditionally animated with CGI/live-action sequences. Screenwriters Jonathan Aibel and Glenn Berger said in a January 2016 interview that they are working on the third SpongeBob movie. Storyboard artist Bob Camp said in an April 2016 interview that cartoonist John Kricfalusi is developing a new Ren & Stimpy cartoon to precede the movie, however Kricfalusi denied on Twitter that he's making such a cartoon. In March 2017 at CinemaCon, it was announced that the movie has been delayed to August 2, 2019. On March 28, 2017, Yahoo! Movies reported on its Twitter feed that the movie had been given the final title of The SpongeBob Movie; current showrunner Waller later suggested that this was a placeholder title.