Will Ferrell's Elf may be one of the most popular Christmas movies of the modern era, but will a sequel ever be released?
According to a report from Mental Floss in September 2013, a sequel to the Christmas flick titled Elf 2: Buddy Saves Christmas was once in development, but the project had already been canceled by the time of the report.
Soon after, Buddy actor Will Ferrell proclaimed he would "absolutely not" be interested in making Elf 2 during an interview with USA Today - via Rolling Stone. He added how he feels "it would look slightly pathetic" if he ever tried to "squeeze back in the elf tights.”
While promoting The Jungle Book with Yahoo in 2016, Elf director Jon Favreau revisited the topic, saying "in the beginning" there was talk of a sequel. But nothing ever came to pass, which the filmmaker feels is "probably for the best:"
“In the beginning there was talk of sequel, and it never came to be, probably for the best as now it exists as its own thing."
Favreau explained how the studio, New Line Cinema, sometimes "pitch [him] different takes on it." On a more promising note, he did say he does wonder if there could be some "follow-up" that may not be a "straight sequel:"
"But it comes up. I hear from the studio who pitch me different takes on it. There is part of me that wonders if there’s anything to be done to follow-up ‘Elf,' but I think a straight sequel is probably not the right move.”
Following up on the matter in 2017 with IGN, actress Kristen Wiig noted Ferrell had been asked to return for an Elf sequel "a lot," to which the interviewer begged the actor, "Please don't do that:"
IGN: "Are there any of your older movies that you think should have had a sequel? A Night at the Roxbury for example?"
Wiig: "You’ve been asked to do Elf a lot haven’t you?"
IGN: "Please don’t do that!"
The Elf star replied in complete agreement, noting how he will only ever do a sequel to something he "really [cares] about" if any idea emerges that "justifies having an extension to the first one." He noted he has been "asked and begged" to work on Elf 2 but doesn't think it should happen:
Ferrell: "See. That’s the thing. I don’t think either of us are ever on that side of ever wanting to rush into a sequel of things that we really care about. If you can figure that out and come up with a story that justifies having an extension of the first one, then great. I’ve been asked and begged and prodded to do a sequel to that movie, and I’m with you."
IGN: "Could there ever be an idea for it?"
Ferrell: "I think it’s hard – it’s a classic fish out of water story and it’s its own thing."
Recent comments on the matter come from James Caan, the actor behind Buddy's father Walter, who revealed to Cleveland’s 92.3 The Fan’s Bull & Fox show - via The Wrap - a sequel never happened as Favreau and Ferrell "didn't get along very well:"
“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.”
He added how "Will wanted to do it" but wasn't willing to work with Favreau and as such, Elf 2 was never able to move forward:
“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.”
Turning attention to the modern-day, Favreau is now busy building out Star Wars' MandoVerse on Disney+ with Dave Filoni. Meanwhile, Ferrell continues to act in plenty of projects, including the new Christmas musical Spirited for Apple TV+ with Ryan Reynolds which was released last December.
What Could Happen in Elf 2
To take a reality check, as Elf has just celebrated its 20-year anniversary with no signs of a sequel, prequel, or spin-off being in development anytime in the last few years, it's become clear one will almost certainly never come to pass.
But if Will Ferrell and Jon Favreau were to ever have some time in their schedules to squash the beef and come up with an Elf follow-up worth making, what could happen next for Buddy and the Christmas gang?
Favreau's statement that "a straight sequel is probably not the right move" is certainly an intriguing one. As he may be implying that there may not be more to tell in Buddy's story, perhaps a spin-off may be the way to go.
Maybe a sequel could see an older Buddy take on a role akin to Papa Elf from the 2003 movie as another young Elf takes the lead. It could even center around Buddy and Jovie's daughter Susie, now in her late teens or early 20s.
Exactly what kind of tale that would be told for Susie is tougher to tell, but it could once again dive into the coming-of-age themes of Elf, with Buddy's daughter preparing to take on a bigger role in Christmas as her father heads toward retirement.
Elf is streaming now on Max.