Fans put squeeze on ‘Sponge’

Promo items stolen from rooftops

So far, SpongeBob mania has translated into more than $60 million in domestic B.O for the Nickelodeon toon’s first bigscreen outing. But some fans are going to unusual heights to get a piece of their hero.

As of Dec. 2, more than 50 giant inflatable Bobs have been stolen from Burger King rooftops. Nearly 5,000 were placed atop the eateries in mid-November to promote the Par/Nick film.

Thieves have even used taxicabs to escape in Montana and Virginia.

“We’ve never had this kind of reaction to a movie character,” says Burger King spokesperson Alison Russell. “Maybe it’s the little arms and legs that make him so attractive.”

The chain’s seen strong sales for SpongeBob toys and wristwatches, sold for $1.99 with a value meal.

Burger King franchisees may see an extra windfall once the promotion ends: Some of the 9-foot-high inflatables were being auctioned on eBay for as much as $1,000.

Amid the hoopla, Paramount and Nick haven’t yet decided whether to do a SpongeBob sequel.

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