EXCLUSIVE: Netflix has prevailed in an auction for The Elf On The Shelf, the family brand owned by the Atlanta-based The Lumistella Company, which has lines of products including the perennial best seller The Elf on the Shelf: A Christmas Tradition.
In a big seven-figure deal, Netflix acquired the AV-rights to develop original stories from the company’s entire portfolio of brands; including but not limited to: The Elf on the Shelf, Elf Pets, and Elf Mates.
Netflix will develop live-action and animated content, taking aim at pre-school audiences, as well as for family audiences through both series and film. As part of the deal, two of Lumistella’s existing animated short films, Elf Pets: Santa’s Reindeer Rescue and Elf Pets: A Fox Cub’s Christmas Tale will be on Netflix in North America this holiday season.
Vertigo Entertainment’s Roy Lee (The Lego Movie) and Miri Yoon will serve as a producers on all The Elf On The Shelf content. The Elf On The Shelf creators Chanda Bell, Christa Pitts and Carol Aebersold will also be involved in producing capacities on the films and shows.
Deadline labeled this a Hot Package back in February, when CAA first set pitch meetings and took the property out to the marketplace, pitching a backstory that would lend itself to narrative storytelling based on a mythology. Streamers and studios were into it, and it took longer than I imagined to close the deal. But it seemed clear for some time that Netflix would do what was necessary to broaden itself by bringing in original IP, and add narrative storytelling to a product that is branded around the world.
Chanda Bell is co-CEO with sister Christa Pitts. of Atlanta-based 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. She said that after deflecting Hollywood overtures for years, the family decided it was time to make an overall deal to create a home for the brand. 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,” Bell said at the time. “Santa needs to access that magic, and nothing happens in the magical land of the North Pole without that spirit.”
She said back in February, 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.
Confirming the Netflix deal, Bell said the family was “thrilled to be partnering with Netflix to create immersive and engaging original stories of Santa’s North Pole while providing heartfelt family-entertainment to fans all over the world. We are also pleased that fans in North America don’t have to wait to delve into the world of The Elf on the Shelf and their friendly Elf Pets, with the streaming giant carrying our newest animated Elf Pets titles this Christmas. We relish the opportunity to collaborate with Netflix to bring joyful family moments to life. This moment is a dream come true.”
CAA brokered the deal with Netflix on behalf of The Lumistella Company and Vertigo’s Lee. Lumistella is also repped by attorney Craig Emanuel and Lee by attorney Rick Genow. The agency’s newly formed affiliate, Constellation Immersive, partnered with Lumistella in The Elf on the Shelf’s Magical Holiday Journey, an immersive drive-thru experience that launches November 12, 2020 through January 3, 2021 at the Fairplex in Pomona, California.