M. Night Shyamalan is an enigma. His body of work features stunning storytelling as well as movies that completely miss the mark. Despite years of experience under his belt, you never know what you’re going to get when it comes to his films. Movie-goers are anxious to see what he will do in Glass, the third movie in the Unbreakable trilogy (the predictions are saying it’ll do well at the box office), but how has the director’s movies faired in the past?
5. ‘The Village’
The Village is a period horror flick that was released back in ’04. It grossed over $256 million worldwide, 55.5% of that coming from foreign viewings. The movie made $50 million during its domestic opening weekend, pushing it to the highest grossing film.
The Village’s 21 nominations and four award wins show that Joaquin Phoenix helped Shyamalan do something right with the film. The premise of an isolated country town and a mysterious forest with unearthly inhabitants served as the basis for a wonderfully creepy adventure but his signature twist at the end disappointed audiences around the globe. The Village was also presented as more frightening in the trailer, but what fans saw there wasn’t what they saw in theaters.
The film landed a 41% on Rotten Tomatoes which isn’t too bad but a better ending would have no doubt boosted the score and the critics reviews.
Despite his tarnished directing reputation, the more recent Split got horror fans out of their homes and into theaters with very little problem. Split grossed over $278 million worldwide. It ranked number one in the nation during its opening weekend, raking in $40 million.
Split follows Kevin Wendell Crumb, played by James McAvoy, and his other personalities as they partake on a quest to release the supernatural Beast from within. Crumb (his personalities to be accurate) kidnap three girls whom they plan to use to unleash the inner demon. Split is one of Shyamalan’s better-received films, scoring 76% on Rotten Tomatoes. Some felt it was a thrilling journey while others felt it lacked cohesion.
The biggest issue — people rallied against the film saying it shined a negative light on those with mental illness. The biggest plus — The twist at the end featuring David Dunn from Unbreakable.
3. ‘The Last Airbender’
The Last Airbender is a live-action fantasy movie based off of the wildly popular animation of the same title. The film’s lifetime gross is over $319 million, about $40 million of that coming from its opening weekend. It managed to rank number thanks to the source material.
The Last Airbender follows 12-year-old Aang as he tries to restore balance to a world drowning in chaos by mastering the four elements and putting an end to Fire Nation’s dubious plans. The success of the film can be credited to the hype surrounding the animation. The movie itself actually fell flat, very flat, thanks to bad acting, nonsensical plotting, and unenthusiastic directing. It scored a rather “impressive” 5% on Rotten Tomatoes, and is considered one of his most expensive failures alongside After Earth.
Shyamalan tries his hand at the alien invasion genre in Signs. The film made roughly $400 million worldwide, and $60 million during its domestic debut weekend.
The story follows Graham Hess, played by Mel Gibson, as he tries to discover the meaning behind 500-foot crop circles that have suddenly appeared on the family farm. Signs was well received just like Split, getting a 74% on Rotten Tomatoes. The movie does a great job of building suspense. It feeds the audience hints throughout the film so they, like Graham, can try their hand at solving the crop circle mystery.
1. ‘The Sixth Sense’
No one should be surprised to see The Sixth Sense as Shyamalan’s highest grossing the film. It was his true debut and brought in over a whopping $600 million worldwide. The film also ranked number one during its domestic opening weekend with a $27 million takeaway at the box office.
The chilling psychological thriller centers around eight-year-old Cole Sear, a boy who can see ghosts. The only one who knows of his gift is Dr. Malcom Crowe, played by Unbreakable star Bruce Willis. The story follows Dr. Crowe as he tries to discover the truth behind Sear’s supernatural abilities. The twist at the end is by far one of Shyamalan’s best and caused many to rewatch the film so they too can look for the signs pointing to the harrowing truth. Not only is the film his highest grossing, but it’s also the top-rated film of the list with 85% on the Tomatometer and a 90% audience approval rating.