Fantasy comes true

Newell to direct childhood favorite 'Delights'

Mike Newell, who tackled the fantasy genre with "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire," has signed to direct Brilliant Films' adaptation of "The Box of Delights," based on John Masefield's 1935 children's classic.

Brilliant, which announced the project Monday, is financing its development through its own fund. "Delights" is the latest fruit of Brilliant's relationship with U.K. talent agency Independent.

Sarah Radclyffe, Courtney Pledger and Esther Douglas are attached to produce "Delights," and Brilliant president Joe Abrams and Rory Gilmartin will executive produce alongside Newell. Frank Cottrell Boyce ("24 Hour Party People") is adapting the screenplay.

The fantasy adventure, first adapted for U.K. radio 50 years ago, was made into a BBC television series in the 1980s. The story centers on 12-year-old Kay, who is caught up in a magical world when he finds a time- travel device, the box of delights, which also places him in grave danger.

"We are thrilled to have Mike and Frank working together on this project; both are truly exceptional talents," Abrams said. "John Masefield's original story is one of those timeless flights of fantasy, playing as well to children today as it did on its original release."

Newell said he was "immediately seduced" by the atmospheric radio production as a child and hopes to update it for a new audience.

"I want to re-create, for today's much savvier children — and their parents — my childhood feelings of excitement, wonder and terror," he said. (partialdiff)