It’s a little hard to remember, but M. Night Shyamalan was once supposed to be the Second Coming in Hollywood.
The writer and director, who’s influenced as much by Alfred Hitchcock as Steven Spielberg, broke out young with his second feature in 1999, “The Sixth Sense,” a box-office hit with a genuinely shocking twist ending that had everyone talking about it — and executives more than willing to bankroll his next creative whim.
After solid reception to “Unbreakable” and “Signs,” Shyamalan hit rocky points, from the head-scratching response to modern fairy tale “Lady in the Water” to flat-out disdain for the gimmicks of “The Village” and “The Happening.”
But his career has rebounded with relatively low-budget returns to the thriller territory that has been so fertile for him. After “The Visit” proved a horror hit in 2015, his new thriller “Split,” starring James McAvoy as a troubled man with multiple personalities who kidnaps three girls, has turned into a box-office sensation of early 2017, staying at No. 1 for two weeks.
“Split” has already outdone the domestic box-office gross for several of Shyamalan’s previous features, and is on its way to hitting numbers closer to his early blockbusters.
See the chart below to see how Shyamalan’s movie career took off, nosedived, and made a comeback at the box office*:
*Note: Budgets for the movies vary significantly, so box-office revenue alone does not determine success, though it’s a useful indicator.
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