×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Nickelodeon’s Ramsey Naito Talks ‘SpongeBob’s Big Birthday Blowout’ at Annecy

ANNECY, France — Having traveled from the floor of Bikini Bottom to the shores of Lake Annecy in France, SpongeBob SquarePants is kicking off his 20th year at Europe’s most important animation festival with a Nickelodeon panel and accompanying sneak peek of the upcoming special “SpongeBob’s Big Birthday Blowout.”

A few lucky Annecy Intl. Animation Film Festival attendees who waited online to score tickets for the rapidly sold-out panel will be the first in the world to see the special, which will release worldwide on the slimy orange network on July 12.

The accompanying panel will include Nickelodeon and SpongeBob vets including co-executive producers Marc Ceccarelli and Vincent Waller, producer Jennie Monica and writer Kaz Prapuolenis.

The special is a mix of traditional 2D animated and live action scenes, on a par with 2004’s “The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie,” and even features a cameo from one of the film’s live action superstars. In it, the citizens of Bikini Bottom get together to plan a surprise party for SpongeBob, so Patrick whisks him to the surface to keep him occupied during the setup.

Once on land, the pair head to a lunch cafeteria called the Trusty Slab, where the now instantly recognizable characters will encounter their less recognizable voice-actor counterparts fulfilling the same roles at the restaurant. It’s the first time that the cast will be on-screen alongside the characters they’ve given life to for the past two decades.

“I think that is a really special, exciting moment for our voice talent,” Nickelodeon EVP of animation production and development Ramsey Naito told Variety ahead of the festival. “It pays homage to them, to everyone who worked on the franchise and to Steve,” she said in reference to SpongeBob creator Stephen Hillenburg, who passed away in November.

“Steve was an icon in this animation community and a true leader and artistic mentor to everyone here at Nickelodeon,” she went on. “We owe so much to Steve. I think this 20th anniversary is, no question, a love letter to him from everyone who knew him and who ever worked on this franchise.”

The sneak peek and panel are only the start of what will be a massive year for the SpongeBob franchise. The next twelve months will see a new season of the series, Paramount’s “The SpongeBob Movie: It’s a Wonderful Sponge” and just last week it was announced that a new spinoff series is in development at Nickelodeon titled “Kamp Koral.”

"SpongeBob's Big Birthday Blowout" on NICKELODEON. Pictured: JimBob (Tom Kenny), Manager (Clancy Brown), Carol (Carol Lawrence), Robber (Mr. Lawrence), Patrick Star (Bill Fagerbakke), Manward (Roger Bumpass), Patchy (Tom Kenny). Photo: Robert Voets / Nickelodeon. ©2019 Viacom, International, Inc. All Rights Reserved"
CREDIT: NICKELODEON/ROBERT VOETS

 

“I think what’s great about ‘Kamp Koral’ is that it really provides a window into the wonder years. We all love Spongebob and the relationships he has with his friends and this will be where it all began. There are emotional pins which will resonate with fans,” explained Naito.

Although based on the classic “SpongeBob SquarePants” series, “Kamp Koral” will feature familiar characters at a much earlier stage in their lives, and will be developed using CGI rather than the series’ and film’s traditional 2D animation techniques.

“It’s a great opportunity for us,” Naito said. “Now the tech is at a place where we can make SpongeBob and replicate or reference the animation style we love from 2D in CG with extreme squash and stretch kind of animation, and also to take advantage of the tools CGI allows us to use like texture, lighting and so many other things. I think it’s going to be standout great.”

And, while some fans might be resistant to change, Naito is confident the new series will strike a similar chord to the original.

“The fans that love Spongebob identify with him and the love he has for his community and his friends,” she explained. “I think the world of Bikini Bottom is a reflection of what every person has in their own life, so we are looking at ways to celebrate Bikini Bottom and Spongebob himself. I think it’s our mandate to look at the Spongebob universe and talk about ways we can spin off authentically, while staying true to the core of what Steve created and what Spongebob represents for everybody.”

"SpongeBob's Big Birthday Blowout" on NICKELODEON. Pictured: JimBob (Tom Kenny), Manager (Clancy Brown), Carol (Carol Lawrence), Robber (Mr. Lawrence), Patrick Star (Bill Fagerbakke), Manward (Roger Bumpass), Patchy (Tom Kenny). Photo: Robert Voets / Nickelodeon. ©2019 Viacom, International, Inc. All Rights Reserved"
CREDIT: NICKELODEON/ROBERT VOETS

Popular on Variety

More Film

  • Angelina Jolie is Maleficent in Disney’s

    'Maleficent: Mistress of Evil' Rules International Box Office With $117 Million

    Though Disney’s “Maleficent: Mistress of Evil” stumbled at the domestic box office, the Angelina Jolie-led sequel enjoyed a far stronger start overseas. The follow-up to 2014’s fantasy adventure inspired by the “Sleeping Beauty” villain took off with $117 million from 56 international markets. In North America, “Maleficent: Mistress of Evil” debuted with a meager $36 [...]

  • Angelina Jolie is Maleficent in Disney’s

    Box Office: 'Maleficent: Mistress of Evil' Dominates With Soft $36 Million

    Five years after Angelina Jolie’s “Maleficent” cast a spell over the box office, the villainous enchantress has returned to the top of domestic charts. Disney’s “Maleficent: Mistress of Evil,” a sequel to 2014’s fantasy adventure based on the “Sleeping Beauty” sorceress, flew lower than the original and debuted to a disappointing $36 million from 2,790 [...]

  • MIA Wrap

    Rome MIA Market Wraps With Stronger U.S. Presence, Boosts Italy's Industry Standing

    Rome’s MIA market for TV series, feature films and documentaries wrapped positively Sunday with organizers boasting a bump in attendance just as some 2,500 executives departed in an upbeat mood after four days of dealmaking and presentations of mostly European fresh product, which elevated Italy’s global standing in the industry, especially within the TV sector. [...]

  • Film Republic Adds Further Sales for

    Film Republic Inks Further Deals for 'God of the Piano' (EXCLUSIVE)

    Sales agent Film Republic has closed further territory sales on “God of the Piano.” Film Movement previously picked up North American rights to the film, as reported exclusively by Variety. Mont Blanc Cinema has taken the rights for Argentina, Chile, Uruguay and Paraguay. Limelight Distribution is looking after the Australian and New Zealand releases, Hualu [...]

  • ‘Bears Famous Invasion’s Lorenzo Mattotti Brings

    Lorenzo Mattotti on MIA Title ‘Bears Famous Invasion of Sicily’

    Illustrator Lorenzo Mattotti is no stranger to film festivals. The artist – a long-time New Yorker cover artist and onetime Lou Reed and Michelangelo Antonioni collaborator – has designed posters for past editions of Venice and Cannes, and has contributed to films that played in Toronto and Rome. This year, however, he experienced the festival [...]

  • Dreamworks Abominable

    'Abominable' Release in Malaysia Abandoned

    Plans to release the increasingly controversial Chinese-U.S. co-produced animation film “Abominable” in Malaysia have been dropped after the distributor said that it would not be cut to cater to political sensitivities. The film includes a scene which depicts a map showing the South China Sea and the so called “nine-dash line” that China uses to [...]

  • Hui He

    RAI Com Takes World Sales on Italy/China Doc About Star Soprano Hui He (EXCLUSIVE)

    Italy’s RAI Com has taken world sales on high-profile documentary “Hui He, the Soprano From the Silk Road,” which is about the personal and artistic journey of one of the world’s leading sopranos and also marks a milestone Italian-Chinese co-production. Hui He was born and trained as a singer in the Chinese city of Xi’an, [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content