Sandy Cheeks, the beloved squirrel from SpongeBob Squarepants, is set for her own spinoff movie, which sources describe as a hybrid feature that will put the animated character in a live-action setting. Nickelodeon is producing the untitled movie, which will be directed by Liza Johnson, Collider has exclusively learned.
Sources add that the Sandy Cheeks movie is being made for an undisclosed streaming service, and while Viacom-backed Paramount+ obviously makes the most sense, Nickelodeon may have also opted to sell the project to the highest bidder. That could very well be Netflix, which debuted The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run in select international territories last August. Either way, it remains unclear which streamer the Sandy Cheeks spinoff is being made for, though production is expected to start in August in New Mexico.
Sources add that longtime SpongeBob writer Kaz co-wrote the script with Tom J. Stern, who recently wrote, directed and produced Nickelodeon‘s live-action special SpongeBob Appreciation Day, which aired in January 2020. Stern’s own website says he’s writing a soon-to-be-announced feature film in the SpongeBob universe.
A representative for Nickelodeon had no comment.
Sandra “Sandy” Cheeks was created and designed by SpongeBob Squarepants creator Stephen Hillenburg, who also happens to be a marine biologist. She is one of 10 main characters in the SpongeBob franchise, and she’s a close friend of both the titular sponge and his BFF/neighbor Patrick Star.
Sandy hails from Texas and has the Southern drawl to match, as well as a passion for karate, music and rodeos. She is a thrill-seeking scientist and inventor who wears an atmospheric diving suit and lives underwater in Bikini Bottom, where she hangs out with fellow Gal Pals such as Karen, Pearl and Mrs. Puff. The character is voiced by Carolyn Lawrence and made her TV debut in May 1999 in the episode “Tea at the Treedome.”
The first two SpongeBob movies grossed nearly $500 million worldwide combined, and the animated franchise is obviously a huge money-maker for Nickelodeon and Viacom as a whole, especially when you take merchandise sales into account. Sandy Cheeks may not be as well known as SpongeBob, but she’s an interesting supporting character who should be able to anchor her own hybrid movie for kids.
Johnson burst onto the scene with the 2011 drama Return starring Linda Cardellini and Michael Shannon before going on to direct 2013’s Hateship Loveship starring Kristen Wiig and Hailee Steinfeld. Her last feature was the 2016 indie comedy Elvis & Nixon, which saw her reunite with Shannon. Johnson has also directed a number of hit TV shows, including episodes of Dead to Me, What We Do in the Shadows, Silicon Valley and Barry as well as Apple‘s upcoming Rose Byrne series Physical. She’s represented by UTA and Mosaic.