Want to know how M. Night Shyamalan got back on top after falling from grace? He paid his way. The filmmaker, who has Glass hitting theaters this week, has been self-financing his recent films – The Visit, Split and now Glass. Shyamalan puts up the money for the movies himself, enabling him to maintain creative control. It’s a gamble, and so far, it’s paid off, and helped him reclaim box office (if not always critical) glory.
Glass, which hits theaters this week, is likely headed towards a $105 million-$120 million global opening weekend, making it a hit for M. Night Shyamalan. Shyamalan’s career has been on quite a journey. The Sixth Sense – not technically his first movie, but the first movie to bring him renown – was both a critical and commercial success, and quickly turned him into a hot director. For a while, he remained on top. But his career started to decline, both with critics and audiences. It go to the point where producers were afraid to include his name in the trailers.
But now, he’s back on top. And what makes that all the more impressive is the knowledge that he apparently used his own money to get there. Forbes reports that the filmmaker “took out a $5 million loan on his 125 acre Pennsylvania estate for The Visit, and following that success he put $9 million together for Split and decided to not stop there. When it came time to find the $20 million budget for Glass, Shyamalan used the earnings from the last two movies and more collateral from his property.”
The reveal that Shyamalan has been self-financing these pictures isn’t entirely new – it’s just mostly gone unremarked upon. In January of 2017, soon after Split opened, THR reported “the writer-director self-financed Split for under $10 million to retain creative control — and it’s paid off, with the film becoming Shyamalan’s best-reviewed film since 2004’s Signs and projected to open to $23 million-plus this weekend.” And in October of that year, after Glass had been announced, Variety stated that the director was self-financing the Split and Unbreakable sequel.
Filmmakers financing their own movies isn’t unheard of, but it’s usually a practice performed by indie directors, not household names like Shyamalan. But in the end, the director has clearly made the right choice – at least from a financial standpoint. It’s enabled him to both maintain creative control of his new films, and result in higher earnings for Shyamalan. As the director told THR back in 2017, “The burden is off of the movie because it’s made for such a low budget that it’s almost certain everyone has won. It doesn’t have to make hardly any money for it to be successful, and that’s a wonderful, wonderful feeling.”
Even though I was not a fan of Glass, I’m happy for Shyamalan. I’ve remained a fan of his all these years, and even after the mess that is Glass, I’m curious to see what he does next.
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