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Inside Move: Lack of Will power won’t stop ‘Elf’ sequel

Studio moves forward although Ferrell not onboard yet

Will Ferrell hasn’t yet signed on for a second trip to the North Pole, but New Line is already making preparations for his return.

Studio has signed “Old School” and “Starsky & Hutch” writer Scot Armstrong to start work on “Elf 2.” Armstrong was the last scribe to do an uncredited rewrite on the original “Elf,” which grossed $173 million in its 2003 release.

Mini-major is believed to have an understanding with Ferrell that gives it confidence to continue with the project, though there’s no deal with the thesp yet and the pic doesn’t have a greenlight.

Though the studio has long hoped to tap Armstrong to write the sequel, scribe has only begun work on the script in the past month.

“Elf” is one of two franchises, along with “Rush Hour,” that New Line hopes to revive with a sequel. As with “Rush Hour,” which has moved toward and away from production based on negotiations with Chris Tucker, pic will depend on the assent of Ferrell, who’s likely to get a payday of $20 million or more.

After the failure of “Son of the Mask,” New Line production prexy Toby Emmerich has said he would go forward with pricey sequels only if original stars are involved.

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