After a decade spent shaping reality TV conventions with genre-defining hits such as Project Runway and Top Chef, Hollywood-based prodco Magical Elves expanded further into the worlds of fashion, food and art, as well as feature documentaries with the hit Justin Bieber 3D concert film, Never Say Never.
Not only did the pop star’s concert flick rake in US$73 million at the domestic box office – making it the third highest-grossing doc of all time – it landed in third place on cult director John Waters’ Top 10 Films of 2011 list. Not too bad for a film that cost $13 million and took only a few weeks to shoot.
The company, headed by Jane Lipsitz and Dan Cutforth, has since launched a feature doc division. “We had planned to do this before the Bieber movie happened because we have always tried to expand our horizons,” Cutforth and Lipsitz told realscreen in September for a feature marking the prodco’s 10th anniversary. “We have some scripted shows we’re working on, several digital projects, and we have a couple of documentaries in the works.”
The Elves also had a banner year on television with shows revolving around food and art continuing to be a big focus for the company. The Texas-set ninth season of cooking competition Top Chef aired on Bravo, and the spin-off web series starring previously eliminated contestants, Top Chef: Last Chance Kitchen, debuted online.
Bravo also aired the second seasons of Top Chef: Just Desserts, and artistic competition Work of Art, coproduced with Pretty Matches Productions, and greenlit two new Elves series for 2012: the international culinary competition Around The World in 80 Plates and Paint the Town, about six women that work in New York City’s gallery scene.
On WE tv, Braxton Family Values premiered in the spring and quickly became the network’s highest-rated reality show. In May, execs ordered a second, 19-episode season, which began airing in the fall, and later greenlit a spin-off series, Tamar & Vince, scheduled to premiere in the fourth quarter of 2012.
The Elves were also among the content producers that will create content for 100 new niche channels YouTube is adding to its online video portal. In partnership with In Style magazine, the producers will build on their fashion programming expertise with the Little Black Dress channel.