(CBS All Access
Kamp Koral: SpongeBob's Under Years
is an upcoming SpongeBob SquarePants
spin-off prequel series that will premiere on YTV
in Canada in November 2020
and on Paramount+
(formerly known as CBS All Access) in the United States in early 2021
It is based on an idea by Brian Robbins
It will introduce a 10-year-old SpongeBob
at a summer sleepaway camp.
Stephen Hillenburg was strongly against the idea of aging SpongeBob down. According to an interview with Paul Tibbitt: "Steve would always say to me, 'You know, one of these days, they’re going to want to make SpongeBob Babies. That's when I'm out of here.'"
Hillenburg last visited the Nickelodeon Animation Studio in August 2018. He spent his last three months at home with his wife, Karen Hillenburg. In October 2018, Brian Robbins became the president of Nickelodeon. On Robbins' second day at Nickelodeon, he attended a pitch meeting for season 13 of SpongeBob. This inspired him to come up with a variety of his own ideas for spin-off shows and new characters because Robbins disliked that SpongeBob had "always stayed the same." In June 2019, Robbins officially greenlit Kamp Koral, and it began production.
SpongeBob and friends spend the summer catching jellyfish, building camp-fires, and swimming in Lake Yuckymuck at Camp Coral, located in the Kelp Forest.
Sandy Cheeks will appear in the spin-off, as a kid with braces. Robbins said, "Sandy is really cute in it." This would appear to directly contradict the season 1 episode "Tea at the Treedome," in which SpongeBob and Sandy meet each other for the first time, but Vincent Waller confirmed the existence of an official explanation for it to be revealed later; Sandy's basic backstory will also be contradicted and rewritten. In the main series, she lived in Texas for most of her life; in Kamp Koral, she will spend her childhood already underwater.
The character designs from the flashback segments of The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run will be "similar but not the same" to the designs used in the spin-off show.
The ten main characters from the original series will return for Kamp Koral, along with two new characters: Nobby and Narlene, a pair of narwhals who live in the woods around the campsite.
The series commenced production in June 2019 and it was CG-animated. Ramsey Naito, Nickelodeon’s EVP Animation Production and Development, said: "SpongeBob has an incredible universe to expand upon and the green light for Kamp Koral is a testament to the strength and longevity of these characters known and loved by generations of fans around the world."
In July 2019, storyboard artist Brian Morante said that he started storyboarding the pilot episode. On August 23, 2019, it was confirmed by Vincent Waller that Andrew Goodman is writing an episode for the spin-off. In September 2019, it was announced that the series was planned to have its UK debut in August 2020. Although, this never actually happened. In January 2020, Vincent Waller mentioned on Twitter: "I think we deliver in July, but that has no real correlation to when they will begin airing." This also never happened.
On January 16, 2020, John Trabbic posted a storyboard from the episode "Cabin of Curiosities" on his Instagram account.
For the 2020-21 Nickelodeon slate, it was confirmed that SpongeBob and his friends would have the same voice actors as the original series. Carlos Alazraqui and Kate Higgins will also voice two new characters: Nobby and Narlene, who are twin narwhals.
On April 4, 2020, Vincent Waller stated that the series premiere will likely be pushed back to a later date, due to the Coronavirus disease 2019 preventing several animation studios from being open. On the same day, Waller also confirmed that the series is being animated in India.
On May 12, 2020, a still frame from the series was released in ViacomCBS' upfront presentation.
At SDCC@Home in July 2020, 8 patches were revealed as giveaways which included a potential first look at the show's logo.
Upon the Kamp Koral announcement, Paul Tibbitt tweeted that he holds nothing against his colleagues, who are working on the show, saying that they are "good people and talented artists," but also said that Hillenburg would not have approved of a spin-off and considers this to be "greedy, lazy executive-ing."
On June 5, Rob Renzetti - another former Nickelodeon employee, creator of My Life as a Teenage Robot - said that he disapproved of the spin-off idea. Renzetti also retweeted Tibbitt's statement.
In response to a fan's question and the negative backlash, Vincent Waller asked for fans to not jump to conclusions about the spin-off series. He stated that he hopes the show will speak for itself upon its release.
Fans have attempted to spread an incorrect rumor that Stephen Hillenburg's family is working on Kamp Koral, but this is false. None of Stephen's family members have ever worked on a SpongeBob SquarePants media before and it is unknown if they know about the spin-off. Vincent Waller, the showrunner of Kamp Koral, stated that he has no "first-hand knowledge" of what the Hillenburgs are doing, since they are not working on Kamp Koral. He also said: "I can only guess they are doing their level best to deal with the grief of losing their husband, father, brother and son."
There is a petition calling to cancel the spin-off series.
Danny Giovannini's response
Danny Giovannini, the script coordinator of Kamp Koral, first responded to the controversy on Twitter on February 26, 2020. When asked if Hillenburg was aware of Kamp Koral before his passing, Giovannini said in a tweet (archived here): "I honestly don't know, as I did not work on the movie and I'm not in a position where I'm involved in any decision making at that level. What I do know is development of the most popular kids show ever takes a long time."
Later on May 19, 2020, Giovannini changed his story. He pretended that Hillenburg was involved (using unclear wording, relating to how Hillenburg liked the crew's work on the original series) and discredited Paul Tibbitt's tweet, unaware that Tibbitt had frequently visited Hillenburg until the latter's death. Giovannini stated: "we all like what we're doing, and Steve absolutely knew about it before he passed. That's why it's in the SB3 movie. Everyone is getting this weird rumor from Paul Tibbitt's tweet, but that dude hasn't worked on the show in years. He has been out of the loop for so long. Please just give the show a chance. You will be very impressed!" Giovannini later deleted this comment after it was discovered that he changed his story.
On May 20, 2020, Instagram user @muttrodgers questioned Giovannini for "changing his tune" and pointed out that the third SpongeBob film had gone through major changes of its plot and directors. Giovannini explained that he changed his story to protect the Kamp Koral crew from online harassment. He stated: "I wasn't aware SB3 switched plots or directors (didn't work on the movie). For all I know, Steve didn't know of Kamp Koral, but it's not like he told us not to do it either. I may have stretched words but did it for a good cause. Until I spoke out, countless people were harassing the Kamp Koral crew. We all love Steve's characters and are working hard to make a show that fans will love."
- Stephen Hillenburg was strongly against "aging down" the characters. As such, this project has received a lot of negative backlash from a few staff members of the show.
- The reason for this is because when Hillenburg first pitched the show, Nickelodeon executives said that they would only greenlight the show if he made SpongeBob and his friends into kids. He was strongly opposed to this meddling and was about to scrap the show until he came up with a compromise, which was putting SpongeBob in a boat driving school so he could remain an adult-aged character.
- The third SpongeBob SquarePants feature film, The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run, serves as the backdoor pilot to this spin-off, featuring the eponymous location in the flashback segments.
- Kamp Koral: SpongeBob's Under Years will mark the first Nicktoon to be released exclusively on CBS All Access.