Exclusive: Mike Newell on The Box Of Delights film

News Louisa Mellor 15 Nov 2012 - 07:12

Director Mike Newell explains why his movie adaptation of The Box Of Delights is in trouble...

It's three and a half years since Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire director Mike Newell was first linked to a movie adaptation of John Masefield's The Box Of Delights, and since then, things have gone quiet on the project.

When we caught up with Newell to chat about his latest film, Great Expectations, we couldn't not ask what had happened to his proposed Masefield adaptation, and here's the rather interesting answer he gave us...

Something close to our hearts is your planned adaptation of John Masefield's The Box Of Delights. What's the status of that at the moment?

The script is there, I would love to make it but I think there is a problem with The Box Of Delights and the problem is that… I don’t know what children expect. I know what adult Hollywood producers think they expect and it is that the story should be much more intricate and much more special effect-y and have comedy and [waves hands around] terrible surprises, and to look overegged in general. The Box Of Delights is a story from the 1930s about a boy who has wished on him something that is almost a curse, which is a box that can allow him to do certain things, and is being struggled over by two powerful figures from the past.

And you know, I’m from a certain generation, and I am the age I am and for me, it’s partly an answer to your thing about why didn’t you juice up Great Expectations. For me, the story of that book, just the way it is with the story of Great Expectations, is sufficient. It’s a really good story, it has a really strong human sense of good and evil and exploration and peril and all sorts of wonderful things but I think it’s in trouble because it isn’t Transformers.

It’s not a Jerry Bruckheimer film.

Correct.

If he wanted to make it though, would you go for it?

I should be so lucky. He’s one of the great producers of his time, of course I would, but that’s not going to happen.

Remember: next Monday the 19th of November marks the beginning of our Annual Den of Geek The Box Of Delights Weekly Six-part Watch-Along Christmas Eve Countdown. Er, that probably needs a snappier title. 

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I just love The Box Of Delights!

I don't see what's wrong with the story as is? It's a very character driven piece with ace villains and amazing set-piece potential. Even the TV series managed to make it utterly compelling on a very small, BBC budget.

Kudos to Mike Newell for not compromising and making it a GCI ridled advert for toys.

The Box Of Delights is a wonderful story and shouldn't be changed just to appeal to a minority with the attention span of a gnat. If they can't make a faithful adaption of it I'd rather they didn't make it at all.

I like his enthusiasm for the story, but it's impossible to better the BBC adaptation.

What's happening on the 19th btw? Are you just reposting the (excellent) series of articles from last year or doing something else?

We have, as a family, watched the Box of Delights every Holiday season since the 1980's. Our original version was an old VHS copied off the TV. We then purchased a copy in the British/European format and had it converted to the U.S. format. I would love to see a new version with at least some concession given to the special effects capabilities of today. The story is, as most have commented, just perfect as it is. Just as we enjoy the more recent version of the Railway Children as we did the original, we believe the same would be true of a new Box of Delights. I am ready to go to see the film version and purchase the DVD whenever it would become available. Please do it!!

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