Many fans of the series were excited to see the film, hoping it's going to be good. When the trailer was released, it received mixed to positive reviews from unofficial reviewers on YouTube. Some people were not expecting much due to the quality of the first post-movie episodes (Seasons 4-9), and some fans also did not like the idea of SpongeBob being CGI.
As of December 13, 2015, The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water had grossed $163.0 million in North America and $160.4 million in other territories for a total gross of $323.4 million worldwide, against a budget of $74 million. It has outgrossed the first SpongeBob movie, which has made $140.2 million.
The film was originally expected to gross at least $35 million in its opening weekend. However, the film exceeded expectations on its opening day.
In its opening weekend, the film grossed an estimated $55.4 million, playing in 3,641 theaters, with a $15,206 per-theater average and finishing in first place at the box office. It beat out American Sniper, which grossed $23.3 million, marking the first time in 4 weeks a film other than American Sniper was the top grossing film. In its second weekend, the film earned an estimated $31.4 million, making a 43.2% decline and dropping to number three. On its third weekend, the film stayed at number three, grossing an estimated $16.6 million. In its fourth weekend, the film was number three again, grossing an estimated $10.8 million.
A week ahead of North America release, the film was released in five markets for the three day weekend of January 30 in other territories, and earned a gross of $8 million. $6.7 million of that came from a strong debut in Mexico. For its second weekend of February 6, 2015, the film earned itself a gross of $16.2 million playing in theaters of 25 markets. The film opened at #1 in Brazil and Spain by grossing $4.6 million and $1.9 million respectively, while maintaining the top spot at the box office of Mexico by earning $2.4 million.
The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water has received generally positive reviews from critics. On Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds a "Certified Fresh" approval rating of 80%, based on 100 reviews, with an average rating of 6.5/10. The site's consensus reads, "The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water won't win over many viewers who aren't fans of the show, but for the converted, it's another colorful burst of manic fun." On Metacritic, the film has a score of 62 out of 100, based on 27 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews."
Andrew Barker of Variety praised the film for "never even feigning a lick of seriousness." Although he felt the film was too long and the CGI sequences to be inferior to the traditionally animated ones, he said the film would prove "popular among the franchise's key grade-schooler and head-shop-owner demographics." Michael Rechtshaffen of The Hollywood Reporter was more negative, saying the film's two animation styles failed "to create a cohesive whole in spite of all the inspired non sequiturs," stating "the live action/CG stuff never satisfyingly jibes with the traditional nautical nonsense down below." He opined that although the film was inferior to the first one, it would likely be a box office success. Barbara VanDenburgh of The Arizona Republic gave the film three and a half stars out of five, saying "The plot is straightforward, predictable and slight, no more intricate a plot than a 15-minute TV episode would have. It's the freewheeling madness of its execution that makes the movie such a trip - as in acid trip." Elizabeth Weitzman of the New York Daily News gave the film four out of five stars, saying "The spirit of the series remains true: cheerfully random jokes, blink-and-you'll-miss-them references and, above all, a silly, stubbornly sentimental streak that only the crabbiest cynic could dismiss." Colin Covert of the Star Tribun gave the film three out of five stars, saying "The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water weaves a silly - and often funny - spell. It's a scrappy little B-movie that zips along rather entertainingly." Jen Chaney of The Washington Post gave the film two out of four stars, saying "There's something about this project that, despite checking all of the requisite plot and sensibility boxes, doesn't convey as an organic work of SpongeBob-ishness."
Nicolas Rapold of The New York Times gave the film a positive review, saying "While less fluid and fresh than its 2004 predecessor, the new film displays enough nutty writing and sheer brio to confirm the stamina of its enduring and skillfully voiced characters." Gwen Ihnat of The A.V. Club gave the film a B+, saying "The visual effects and fast and furious quips combine for that rarest of releases: one that both parents and kids can enjoy (just like the show), leaving viewers of any age hoping that the next SpongeBob movie isn’t an entire decade off." Alonso Duralde of The Wrap gave the film a positive review, saying "The jokes are consistently hilarious, with enough variety to tickle the funny bones of old salts and young fishies alike." Claudia Puig of USA Today gave the film two out of four stars, saying "The live-action elements — mostly in the person of Antonio Banderas as cranky pirate Burger Beard, who spends most of his time addressing a flock of seagulls — don't mesh seamlessly with the animated sequences. It almost feels like two movies awkwardly melded together." John Semley of The Globe and Mail gave the film two and a half stars out of four, saying "The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water mostly nails what has always made the character, and his brightly coloured underwater world, so endearing: the abundant innocence, the welcome lack of cynicism and the out-and-out stupidity." Christy Lemire of RogerEbert.com gave the film two and a half stars out of four, saying "The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water remains true to the surrealism of its animated television roots. But it also tries to force a live-action element which isn't as comfortable a fit as a certain pair of symmetrical trousers."