Like Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas Is You” in the music world, Elf is one of the most recent movies to join the Christmas movie canon. (The most recent: Klaus.) The 2003 film, starring Will Ferrell as Buddy the Elf, the late James Caan, and a distractingly blonde Zooey Deschanel, is also still doing big business in theaters.
Deadline reports that the Alamo Drafthouse made $350,000 in ticket sales for Elf this November and December. It’s also the no talking-no texting chain’s “top all-time repertory title,” with a cumulative gross of $1.5 million. That’s on top of the approximately $220 million worldwide it made during its initial release. Not bad for a movie with a $33 million budget (most of which was spent on spaghetti, M&Ms, and chocolate syrup):
Jeff Goldstein, president of domestic distribution at Warner Bros, called Elf – which has grossed close to $173 million domestically — “one of the evergreen properties that keep doing really strong business.” He expects to end the year with about 3,700 bookings, “not bad for a movie that’s 19 years old.”
Next year, for Elf‘s 20th anniversary, the holiday screenings will be “even bigger.” But don’t expect a sequel any time soon, or ever. “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 [Jon Favreau] and Will didn’t get along very well,” Caan said in 2020. “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.”
Instead, Ferrell made a different Christmas movie this year, while Favreau is busy with Star Wars and the MCU. They’re doing fine, if for no other reason than they have nothing to do with 2003’s other (inexplicably beloved) Christmas movie.