Serve up the crabby patties! Viacom's Paramount Pictures will release a SpongeBob SquarePants movie in late 2014 as it looks to kick its animation output into a higher gear, Viacom president and CEO Philippe Dauman said Tuesday, according to a report by The Hollywood Reporter.
"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 told a Deutsche Bank media and telecom investor conference in Palm Beach, FL, during a webcast appearance.
Paramount announced the formation of its new animation unit last July with a target of one release starting in 2014, but had not previously not mentioned a specific project. However, Paramount picked up rights to Penny Arcade's science fiction comic New Kid in June and is planning an adaptation of it. The studio tapped The Book of Eli writer Gary Whitta to pen the script and Mary Parent and Cale Boyter are producing via their Paramount-based Disruption Entertainment.
The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie hit the silver screen late in 2004 and grossed $85.4 million domestically and $54.7 million abroad, according to BoxOfficeMojo.com. The film saw SpongeBob take leave from the town of Bikini Bottom to track down King Neptune's stolen crown.
Paramount did not provide additional deals on the new SpongeBob film.
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 be only 30 to 40 people strong, allowing for good financial returns. 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.
David Stainton, the head of Paramount's animation arm, resigned earlier this month for personal reasons. Paramount Motion Picture Group president Adam Goodman is now overseeing the animation unit.