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Netflix Nabs Global Rights to ‘SpongeBob’ Movie, Michael Che Heads to HBO Max for Sketch Comedy Series

Fern Siegel

SpongeBob is starring in a new film — “The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run” — and Netflix nabbed international rights for most countries outside the U.S., excluding China and possibly Canada.

In the U.S., “Sponge on the Run” will take the PVOD route in early 2021. Then it will stream on CBS All Access. (Paramount, the parent of CBS All Access, is the studio behind the movie.)

According to Variety, Netflix is “not beholden to the 2021 domestic debut before offering the film to its customers abroad.”

Part of the successful Nickelodeon franchise, the film is about SpongeBob and his friend Patrick’s efforts to rescue pet snail Gary after Poseidon kidnaps him.

Other streaming deals this week:

  • Netflix is partnering with Gaumount for the new action comedy CGI animated series “Samurai Rabbit: The Usagi Chronicles,” based on the comic book “Usagi Yojimbo.” Mixing high tech and classic Japanese references, it follows a teen rabbit, descended from a great warrior, on his quest to become a samurai. Meantime, he leads a group of misfits — a cunning ninja, faithful pet lizard, acrobatic pickpocket — as he battles monsters.

  • At HBO Max, Michael Che (“Saturday Night Live”) is headed for a sketch comedy series. The six-episode show addresses subjects as diverse as police brutality and falling in love from a black perspective. Sketches will illustrate how Che feels on any subject. Suzanna Makkos, EVP original comedy and animation for HBO Max, stated: “Michael brings a distinct comedic perspective as he illustrates the uncomfortable truths across multiple topics.”

  • HBO Max has also acquired “Ravi Patel’s Pursuit of Happiness,” the four-part CNN original series. It debuts August 27 and follows Patel (“Master of None,” “Meet the Patels”) as he globetrots in search of answers to life’s big questions. He takes a family member or friend to various countries to explores issues such as aging, immigration, parenting and gender roles.

  • On the Apple TV+ front, Mark Boal, who won two Oscars for “The Hurt Locker,” will be the showrunner for the 10-episode series “Echo 3,” based on the Israeli series “When Heroes Fly.” The Israeli show is inspired by Amir Gutfreund’s novel. The drama follows a young scientist, the emotional center of a small American family, who goes missing along the Colombia-Venezuela border. Her husband and brother, both with military experience, search for her.

  • And at Hulu, Kelly Marie Tran (“Star Wars: Episode VIII - The Last Jedi”) is joining the eight-episode drama series “Monsterland,” based on stories by Nathan Ballingrud. The fantasy-oriented show has humans encounter mermaids and fallen angels. Tran stars in the “Iron River, MI” episode.

‘The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run’ Trailer