By the looks of the box office results for The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie, the quirky Nickelodeon character is by no means a square -- he is, in fact, as hip as can be. At least to the powers that be at Viacom (NYSE:VIA).

The final tally for the past weekend's theatrical race places the convivial sea creature in second place, with an astounding take of slightly more than $32 million (according to, which also estimated the negative cost to be on the order of $30 million). This beat my personal expectations for the film. Although it didn't capture the top slot -- that honor went to Disney's (NYSE:DIS) National Treasure -- the film was an unqualified winner for Sumner Redstone and his shareholders.

This movie is relatively cheap on the scale of Hollywood productions (of course, as many have pointed out, it should be since it is essentially the cartoon put on the big screen). Even with the marketing expenditures, I'm sure the film will have a profitably synergistic run through many of the Viacom conglomerate's assets. One of the more notable attributes of the weekend's dynamic was the fact that SpongeBob beat Pixar's (NASDAQ:PIXR) The Incredibles, which came in third. That's somewhat surprising, since the Pixar cartoon seemed to have enough momentum to finish higher. Disney would have loved to claim the top two rungs, but no matter, the Mouse is doing better these days, and the annoyance of a square-pantsed little fellow won't be a big deal.

SpongeBob has ignited a significant explosion of merchandising programs across the retail landscape and has cemented himself as a franchise to be reckoned with. Though it would be an overstatement to say that he has become Viacom's Mickey Mouse, who knows where he'll be 10 or 20 years from now? Iconic characters were at one time not so iconic, so Bob's ultimate trajectory could surprise a lot of observers.

I expect more movies and a greater exploitation of everything SpongeBob down the line, but for now, you can head on down to the local Burger King and get some cool tie-ins to the current film -- take that, McDonald's (NYSE:MCD) and Wendy's (NYSE:WEN)! You can also pick up THQ's (NASDAQ:THQI) video game adaptation or one of the joystick devices from Jakks Pacific (NASDAQ:JAKK). Many adults also enjoy the salt-tinged adventures of this goofy sponge thing, so the upside potential for the franchise is attractive. If his appeal dries up, we'll at least have a treasure trove of nostalgia that can be dug up years from now and mined for its retro value.

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Fool contributor StevenMallas owns shares of Disney.