Will Ferrell has been open in the past about turning down a $29 million offer to star in a sequel to his 2003 Christmas comedy classic “Elf,” and he remains to this day without regret over his decision. “Elf” arrived at a seminal moment in Ferrell’s film career. The actor already had fan-favorite supporting turns under his belt after “Zoolander” and “Old School,” but it was “Elf” that cemented Ferrell as a leading comedy movie star. Once “Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy” arrived the next year, Ferrell’s film career was off to the races. But never has Ferrell returned to “Elf,” and he told The Hollywood Reporter it was a simple decision to give up $29 million.
“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,'” Ferrell said. “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 “Elf” co-star James Caan has implied other reasons for an “Elf” sequel failing to get off the ground. Caan said in September 2020 that Ferrell and “Elf” director Jon Favreau did not get along on set, so much so that Ferrell refused to star in another “Elf” movie if the director remained involved.”
“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,'” Caan said at the time. “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.”
Ferrell also opened up to The Hollywood Reporter about his biggest misfire: 2009’s “Land of the Lost,” based on the 1974 television series of the same name. With a budget of around $100 million, “Land of the Lost” misfired with just $68 million worldwide. Ferrell learned some valuable lessons opening weekend as he realized in real time that his film was bombing.
“I’ll never forget, [the movie] had had a terrible Friday night, and I wake up Saturday morning and I’m about to go for a jog, and you literally start wondering, are people going to point, ‘There he is! His movie underperformed!’ And then you finally go and nobody gives a shit,” Ferrell said. “And that same night, I go out to dinner, and this guy sees me in the bathroom, and he’s like, ‘Land of the Lost!’ I’m thinking, ‘Oh no, here it comes,’ and he goes, ‘That was so funny. Oh my God, when you poured the dinosaur pee all over! Congrats, man.’ And it was a good reminder that there’s the movie business and then there’s the world. So yeah, your skin gets thicker, and you learn to shake it off. And it does get easier over time.”
Head over to THR’s website to read Ferrell’s new cover story in its entirety.