‘SpongeBob’ movie goes directly to streaming

A new “SpongeBob” movie that was expected to play in theatres will instead go straight to streaming, a blow to cinemas that are cautiously restarting operations after a four-month shutdown.

The new SpongeBob movie will go direct to streaming after the COVID-19 virus halted its theatrical debut. (Photo: News Day)

“The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run” will debut digitally in the US via premium video on demand in early 2021, ViacomCBS Inc. said in a statement Monday. The film will then move exclusively to the company’s streaming service CBS All Access. It was initially expected to premiere in theatres on August 7.

US cinemas have been struggling to cope with a lack of revenue and rising debt piles since the coronavirus pandemic forced them to close in March. Their woes were compounded by movie studios, which had to release some films digitally in an effort to recoup their marketing costs during the shutdown, skipping the type of theatrical debut that keeps cinemas afloat.