For Nickelodeon - the network that birthed such animated classics as Ren & Stimpy, Doug and Rugrats - their most popular and profitable star is a sponge who lives in a pineapple under the sea. With a wildly successful television series (that's still airing!), a feature film, and merchandising out the wazoo, Spongebob Squarepants is to Nickelodeon what Mickey Mouse and Bugs Bunny are to Disney and Warner Bros.
Series creator and marine biologist Stephen Hillenburg began developing SpongeBob Squarepants after the cancellation of his first series for the network, Rocko's Modern Life. Premiering in 1999, the television series' massive success led to a movie in 2004, aptly named The SpongeBob Squarepants Movie. The film was well-received by fans and critics, performed better than expected at the box office, and only further cemented SpongeBob's claim as Nickelodeon's reigning 'toon.
Now, Spongebob, his best friend Patrick, and the rest of the undersea gang are returning in an all-new sequel - The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water - which finds SpongeBob leaving his world and entering our own. The first trailer for the film has been released. Check it out above.
Much has changed for SpongeBob and his friends in their latest cinematic outing. The characters won't only appear as their usual, 2-D animated selves, but after crossing over into our world will appear as the computer-generated models that have become the norm in animated feature films.
Fans will also see SpongeBob, Patrick, Squidward, Mr. Krabs and Plankton become superheroes thanks to a magical book that makes stories come true. Not only do their newly acquired powers help them do battle against the villainous Burger-Beard the Pirate (a ginger Antonio Banderas), but it makes them larger than life and perfectly tailored for capitalizing on our ever-growing obsession with superheroes.
Sponge Out of Water is a co-production between Nickelodeon Movies and Paramount Animation, and it's directed by Paul Tibbett and written by Stephen Hillenburg. All of the original voice actors from the SpongeBob Squarepants series are reprising their roles - Tom Kenny, Bill Fagerbakke, Rodger Bumpass, Clancy Brown, Carolyn Lawrence and Mr. Lawrence. Besides Bandaras and a quick cameo from Guns 'N' Roses guitarist, Slash (as seen in the trailer), no other live-action stars have been announced.
What do you make of SpongeBob's latest big screen adventure? Is the sponge beginning to wear out his welcome, or are there still years ahead for the square little dude? Sound off in the comments below!
The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water hits theaters on February 6th, 2015.