The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie is a 2004 American traditional animated adventure comedy film based on the Nickelodeon television series, SpongeBob SquarePants. The film was directed and produced by series creator Stephen Hillenburg, and stars the regular television cast (Tom Kenny, Bill Fagerbakke, Clancy Brown, Rodger Bumpass and Mr. Lawrence) with guest performances by Scarlett Johansson, Jeffrey Tambor, Alec Baldwin and David Hasselhoff. The plot follows Plankton's plan to steal King Neptune's crown and send it to Shell City; SpongeBob and Patrick must retrieve it there to save Mr. Krabs' life from Neptune's wrath and their home (Bikini Bottom) from Plankton's plan.
Previous offers by Paramount Pictures to create a film version of SpongeBob SquarePants were turned down by Hillenburg, but he eventually accepted one in 2002. When the film went into production, Hillenburg and the show's staff halted production on the series after the third season. A writing team—Hillenburg, Paul Tibbitt, Derek Drymon, Aaron Springer, Kent Osborne and Tim Hill—was assembled, conceiving the idea of a mythical hero's quest: the search for a stolen crown, which would bring SpongeBob and Patrick to the surface. The film was originally intended as the series finale; however, Nickelodeon wanted more episodes, so Paul Tibbitt assumed Hillenburg's position as showrunner to begin work on a fourth season for broadcast in 2005. During production, Jules Engel, Hillenburg's mentor at the California Institute of the Arts, died; the film was dedicated to his memory.
Tie-in promotions were made by 7-Eleven, the Cayman Islands and Burger King (which decorated some stores with 9-foot (2.7 m) SpongeBob SquarePants inflatable figures). The film was a box-office success (grossing over $140 million), and received generally positive reviews from media fans and critics. A sequel titled The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water was released on February 6, 2015.