When Elf came out in 2003 it became an instant holiday classic. The story of Buddy, the human raised by elves in the North Pole trying to figure out life in New York City, was so original and sweet and warm that it was impossible not to love. Helped in no small part by Will Ferrell, the man filling out Buddy’s gorgeous green elf suit and the secret to the movie’s charm. After the success of Elf, people were clamoring for more Buddy. More Ferrell. And they were to be disappointed. And just recently, Ferrell opened up about why there’s never been an Elf sequel, and it turns out it wasn’t for lack of trying.
Elf was a huge role for Ferrell back in 2003. After recently leaving the cast of Saturday Night Live, he had just one big movie under his belt as a co-star (Old School) when he was given the starring role in the Christmas movie. In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Ferrell admitted he had his concerns when filming the holiday flick. It seems those iconic yellow tights had him thinking to himself, “Boy, this could be the end.”
Far from it, as we now know. The movie was such a massive success that Ferrell was reportedly offered a significant amount of money to reprise his role as the ever-optimistic Buddy in a sequel which had already been written; $29 million, to be exact. But he wouldn’t do it.
Will Ferrell refused to do an ‘Elf’ sequel.
Ferrell explained to The Hollywood Reporter that the script was so bad he just couldn’t bring himself to do it. “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.'”
While Ferrell didn’t share who wrote the script for the second movie, James Caan, who played Buddy’s father, told 92.3 The Fan in 2020 that there were other issues keeping an Elf sequel from happening as well. “We were gonna do it, and I thought ‘Oh my God, I finally have a franchise movie. I can make some money, let my kids do what the hell they want to do,’” he said. “The director and Will didn’t get along very well. Will wanted to do it, and he didn’t want the director. He had it in his contract. It was one of those things.”
Sometimes a sequel simply isn’t necessary. Especially when it’s a movie like Elf that gets rewatched by millions of family every year. Let Buddy forever remain as he was in the first movie. A cottonheaded ninnymuggins in yellow tights.