M. Night Shyamalan has an interesting career trajectory. After breaking out big with The Sixth Sense, his movies kept getting bigger until he pulled back with The Visit and used a smaller budget to have more creative control over the final picture. That formula has worked out well at the box office with Shyamalan’s latest film, Glass, pulling in $246 million worldwide off a $20 million budget.
Steve Weintraub spoke to Shyamalan about his latest project, AppleTV+’s new series Servant, and asked about the director’s upcoming projects. We previously reported that Shyamalan has films set for 2021 and 2023. Steve asked if these movies were connected, and Shyamalan said that they’re not. He went on to say why he felt so strongly about these projects and that there was also a third project in the works:
“I just had two movie ideas I felt very strongly about. For me, there are ideas and they’re in journals sometimes and they don’t quite have the meat yet or whatever that thing is that makes it so I’m ready to commit two years of my life to making this—to writing and directing this—some of those ideas don’t have that yet. They have to gestate a little bit. But there were two ideas where right away I was thinking about making them. And, interesting enough, there might be a third thing that came to me that might end up going in between these two. So there might be three.”
As for how they compare to his earlier films, he says
“I’m loving this approach from The Visit on where they’re minimal, contained, I own them, we take big tonal risks and try to hit that note of absurd-but-grounded, that dark humor moment and deal with some complicated things and not necessarily take the audience where they’re comfortable, both during or even at the end. That’s all mitigated because we’re working with a respectable number and I feel like I’m being a good partner to my distributors. I like that because it allows me to iterate really fast in the making of these stories, so those films follow that architecture of approach and process. Even if it’s tricking myself into being more dangerous, it’s working because when I think about these three films that I’m thinking about—all weird and dark—I think that they speak to each other a little bit.”
I think even though Shyamalan remains a divisive director, I like that he’s making the movies he wants to make and has found a way to tell stories on a smaller budget to take bigger chances. Those payoffs may not always work for all audiences, but I’d much rather see him take big swings than make something safe and generic.
Servant is now streaming on AppleTV+. Click here for all our previous coverage.