EXCLUSIVE: Turns out Judy Blume’s Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret isn’t the only hot property on the auction block this week. Another is The Elf on the Shelf, pitched this week by co-creator Chanda Bell, and Vertigo producers Roy Lee and Miri Yoon.
Chanda Bell is co-CEO with sister Christa Pitts of CCA&B, and she wrote up the original Elf on the Shelf story with her mother, Carol Aebersold, based on a family tradition. They self-published the first book and 15 years later it became a global phenomenon, with 14.5 million books sold. CAA is orchestrating the auction and set the pitch meetings that were completed this week.
“We had been chased by Hollywood for the last five or eight years, but we weren’t sure what story we wanted to tell,” Chanda told Deadline. “We got to work on a backstory, and essentially what we’re bringing is a whole universe of characters, a franchise in need of an entertainment industry partner to bring it to life.”
She said the plan encompasses an animated or live action CG hybrid film, that will broaden to TV and preschool shows. The basic premise focuses on a cast of characters that includes elf pets and the Elf on the Shelf characters that are adopted by families. They do more than monitor which kids have been naughty and nice. “The idea is that humankind helps the North Pole run, and defines Christmas spirit,” she said. “Santa needs to access that magic, and nothing happens in the magical land of the North Pole without that spirit.”
She said they pitched a dozen suitors with a backstory, with the company holding onto the underlying rights on IP she and her family spent the last 15 years building. Given a paucity of original IP, sources said this one will get snapped up quickly.
“We got a very positive response and I know they’ve already gotten a lot of phone calls.” Stay tuned.