It looks like moviegoers have unleashed the M. Night Shyamalan cinematic universe
M. Night Shyamalan’s second low-budget horror feature in two years has officially solidified his directorial comeback in the only way that matters — the box office.
Split, which stars indie darling Anya Taylor-Joy (The Witch) as “the last girl standing” and James McAvoy as a man with 23 distinct personalities (plus a bonus one, which is the scariest one!), is Shyamalan’s first feature to hold the number-one box office spot for three weekends in a row since The Sixth Sense in 1999. Recouping a $9 million budget, the film has already brought in $99 million domestically, for a global total of $142 million.
This win follows Shyamalan’s critically acclaimed 2015 horror film The Visit, which brought in a global total of $98 million on a $5 million budget. At this point, it looks like Shyamalan has finally sprung himself from the director’s jail he backed himself into after a series of highly public missteps: plagiarism feuds over his 2004 film The Village, a box office flop with Lady in the Water in 2006, and utter humiliation in 2010 with a sloppy, whitewashed The Last Airbender adaptation that was disavowed by the creators of the original series. At one point, his name was so derided that audiences booed when his credit turned up in the trailer for Devil. But now he’s back, baby!
As Vulture points out, Split isn’t just a home run for Shyamalan. It’s also the highest-grossing horror movie since The Conjuring in 2013. It’s hard to say what made it such an appealing proposition for moviegoers, since it’s not the ideal time of year to release a horror movie, nor is James McAvoy a star with proven box office power outside the X-Men ensemble. (Are there really that many Atonement stans? If so, shoot me an email!)
Universal’s heavy marketing push for Split certainly…