Netflix has acquired the international distribution rights for the latest “SpongeBob” film, insiders familiar with the deal told Variety.
The streaming giant picked up the foreign rights for ” SpongeBob: Sponge on the Run,” the twice-delayed Paramount Animation title from Viacom. The film is one of many theatrical releases thwarted by the coronavirus pandemic this year.
The deal excludes China, where Netflix has no presence, one source said. Paramount also has plans to release the film in Canada at some point, added another individual, after which Netflix will stream the film in that territory.
Representatives for Netflix and Viacom had no immediate comment.
The international release date for the third film in the “SpongeBob” franchise is not set, but Netflix is not beholden to the 2021 domestic debut before offering the film to its customers abroad.
Paramount announced in late June that “Sponge on the Run” would forgo theaters entirely and debut as a paid VOD title in early 2021, before heading to its sister streaming service CBS All Access as a home entertainment exclusive.
While the film’s budget is unknown, the animation hybrid’s latest installment cost roughly $60 million. MRC co-financed the project. Between the Netflix and CBS All Access deals, Paramount has been made whole on the cost of the project, said sources.
The acquisition is one of several recent transactions between Netflix and Paramount, including the shuttling of films like Kumail Nanjiani and Issa Rae’s “Lovebirds,” Aaron Sorkin’s “Trial of the Chicago 7,” and Martin Scorsese’s “The Irishman.”
The delightful kids cartoon (and stoner icon) first came to features via Nickelodeon. The second film, which Paramount released, went on to gross over $350 million worldwide.