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The Roller Coaster Career Of M. Night Shyamalan

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.”

The classic line from Charles Dickens’ classic A Tale of Two Cities seems apt to describe the turbulent career of filmmaker M. Night Shyamalan.

It may seem silly now after everything that he has been through, but there was a time when M. Night Shyamalan was on top of the world. The Sixth Sense put him on Hollywood’s map early on in his career, garnering the young filmmaker two Academy Award nominations: Best Director and Best Original Screenplay. The next few years were very good for Shyamalan, putting out such films as Unbreakable, which eventually earned two sequels, and the Mel Gibson thriller Signs. In 2002 News Week Magazine featured M. Night on one of their covers and declared him “The Next Spielberg.” In 2004 Shyamalan released The Village and thus ignited a long streak of critical and financial failures that made M. Night Shyamalan the biggest laughing stock in the industry. It got so bad that studios refused to associate his name with his own projects. Instead he was consistently referenced as “The Director of The Sixth Sense.” More recently, however, the writer-director has produced back-to-back hits in The Visit and Split, both personally financed by Night himself.

What will the future hold for the once and future king of the twist? While only time can tell, Shyamalan does have a new film out in theaters starting today. Glass marks the close of the superhero trilogy he started back in 2000 with Unbreakable. While critically the film has not been received well, its box office capabilities have yet to be seen. Until then, let’s take a quick statistical look back at roller coaster filmography of M. Night Shyamalan:

The Sixth Sense (1999)

6th
Production Budget
: $40 million
Worldwide Box Office: $672.8 million
Tomatometer Rating: 85%
Academy Award Nominations: Best Director & Best Original Screenplay


Unbreakable (2000)

unbreakable
Production Budget
: $75 million
Worldwide Box Office: $248.1 million
Tomatometer Rating: 69%


Signs (2002)

signs
Production Budget
: $72 million
Worldwide Box Office: $408.2 million
Tomatometer Rating: 73%
That same year Newsweek called M. Night as “The Next Spielberg”


The Village (2004)

village
Production Budget: $60 million
Worldwide Box Office: $256.7 million
Tomatometer Rating: 43%


Lady In the Water (2006)

waterlady
Production Budget
: $70 million
Worldwide Box Office: $72.8 million
Tomatometer Rating: 25%


The Happening (2008)

happening
Production Budget: $48 million
Worldwide Box Office: $163 million
Tomatometer Rating: 18%


The Last Airbender (2010)

TLA bill.Matrix type
M. Night’s biggest project yet and first time using a pre-established, popular IP
Production Budget: $150 million
Worldwide Box Office: $319.7 million
Tomatometer Rating: 5%


After Earth (2013)

afterwill
Will Smith recruits M. Night to direct his son Jaden’s first feature vehicle
Production Budget: $130 million
Worldwide Box Office: $243.8 million
Tomatometer Rating: 11%


The Visit (2015)

visit
Shyamalan signs with Blumhouse, returning to small budget horror
Production Budget: $5 million (smallest budget yet)
Worldwide Box Office: $256.7 million
Tomatometer Rating: 66% (1st “Fresh” rating since Signs)


Split (2016)

split
Production Budget: $9 million
Worldwide Box Office: $278.5 million
Tomatometer Rating: 76%


Glass (2019)

glass
Production Budget: $20 million
Worldwide Box Office: N/A
Tomatometer Rating: 39%


What do you think about the evolution of M. Night Shyamalan’s career? Are you a fan? Which film of his is your favorite or least favorite? I want to hear from you, so feel free to hit me up in the comments below!

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