M. Night Shyamalan is reflecting on his biggest box office failed movies, including Lady in the Water and the critically panned The Happening.
Knock at the Cabin director M. Night Shyamalan reflects on some of his biggest box office failures. Shyamalan has a long and storied career with The Sixth Sense, Split, Signs, and Unbreakable proving to be hit films, with their wide scope, sense of suspense, and their unique takes on the medium. The most popular of Shyamalan’s films, The Sixth Sense, has become a mainstay in pop culture, with Bruce Willis’ Dr. Malcolm Crowe carrying the twist-heavy narrative alongside the skilled young actor Haley Joel Osment, who played Cole Sear.
Yet not all of Shyamalan’s work was successful upon hitting theaters. While The Last Airbender is his most notable failure, and Shyamalan learned blunt lessons from it, there were two other projects that flopped that he still struggles to consider, especially given how much he still cares for them. In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Shyamalan discussed the pain of their failures, how he learned from the results of those movies, and how marketing played a key role in the unfortunate theatrical flops. Check out his quote below:
“Lady in the Water and The Happening are so much a part of me. I love being wicked and getting a rise out of you, [but] being goofy is a part of who I am, as is being earnest. So Lady in the Water was very close to who I am as a person. One thing I let go of on that movie was the idea of, “How will they sell the movie?” Now I tell this story to every filmmaker I work with. I also told it to my daughter [Ishana Night Shyamalan], who’s about to make her first movie. I’ll say, “The marketeers are the first people to tell your story. They begin the story. That’s part of the art form. So you have to start thinking about that as you’re making the movie.” And on Lady, I didn’t do that. I just made something that I loved. It was the least seen of all my movies, but to this day, when people come up to me about that movie, they speak with religion about it.”
How M. Night Shyamalan Has Repaired His Career
Around 2006, Shyamalan suffered the first major disappointment of his career with the failure of Lady in the Water. It was a stumbling block, but every director is likely to have it, with even James Cameron having watched his project, The Abyss, struggle. Shyamalan then did the 2008 project The Happening, which similarly flopped after being weighed down by poor acting and non-threatening villains. However, The Happening‘s Zooey Deschanel said it was misunderstood by audiences. Shyamalan then went on to direct 2010’s The Last Airbender, then 2013’s After Earth, which both completely failed due to poor VFX and acting.
It seemed as if Shyamalan would never recover from his disappointing movies streak, but the director rebounded his works and put out Split in 2016, which completely reignited his career. With its interesting slasher villain, Split features brilliant and convincing acting, a horrifying concept, and an interesting take on the horror genre as a whole. Afterward, Shyamalan directed Glass and Old. Both became successes that helped turn around Shyamalan’s career, proving that peak Shyamalan is back.
What Is M. Night Shyamalan’s Next Project?
With more successes on his plate, Shyamalan is ready to look to the future with his next project, Knock at the Cabin, an adaptation of a book exploring the reality of one small family being forced to make an impossible choice. Forced to choose one among their number to sacrifice to prevent the apocalypse, the family needs to wrestle with their horrifying situation while also realizing the inevitability of deciding in the face of a worldwide cataclysm. The movie is already receiving early positive reviews that further show Shyamalan in a positive direction. The tough choice in Knock at the Cabin is perfect for M. Night Shyamalan as a character-focused director, and it can continue to reinvigorate his career.
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