Celebrities often jump at the chance to sign up for a sequel, but for actor Will Ferrell, it turns out plot is more important than profit.
The Anchorman star recently revealed that producers were considering a follow-up to the 2003 Christmas mega-hit Elf, but Ferrell had an issue with the storyline. In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, the former SNL comedian said he was offered $29 million to step back into the pointy shoes of his character, Buddy, but Ferrell wasn’t feeling it.
He explained, “I would have had to promote the movie from an honest place, which would’ve been, like, ‘Oh no, it’s not good. I just couldn’t turn down that much money.’ And I thought, ‘Can I actually say those words? I don’t think I can, so I guess I can’t do the movie.’”
Ferrell’s jaw-dropping net worth might have made the decision easier. Thanks to a hugely successful career that includes not only his stint on late-night TV but also roles in box office smashes like Zoolander, Blades of Glory, Step Brothers, Talladega Nights, and Old School, the Chad Smith lookalike has racked up a reported $160 million over the course of his career.
But rumor has it that script issues might not be the only reason Ferrell was reluctant to put on his oversized elf costume once again. In 2020, co-star James Caan told the hosts of a Cleveland-based radio show that Ferrell was at odds with Elf’s director, Jon Favreau.
When asked about the possibility of a sequel, Caan said, “We were gonna do it and I thought, ‘Oh my God, I finally got a franchise movie, I could make some money, let my kids do what the hell they want to do.’ And the director and Will didn’t get along very well. So Will wanted to do it, he didn’t want the director, and he had it in his contract, it was one of those things.”
Though fans may never get an Elf redux, the movie remains one of the most popular modern-day Christmas movies. It’s lucky then that Ferrell didn’t give into his original doubts about the out-there comedy. “‘Boy, this could be the end,’” Ferrell, now 54, recalls thinking while darting around the NYC film set dressed in yellow tights and a pointy hat. In the end, Elf grossed an impressive $220 million at the box office from a budget of just $33 million.