But the film never went into production and I have now found an interview with Newell from 2012 that explains why.
Lousia Mellor from Den of Geek asked him about it and got a depressing reply:
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.A sad conclusion, but at least we have the BBC adaptation to watch.