Filmmaker M. Night Shyamalan is staying in the Universal Pictures family for his next project. And the one after that. Universal announced today that it will release the next two M. Night Shyamalan movies on February 26, 2021 and February 17, 2023, respectively. The title, cast, and plot details are firmly under wraps aside from describing the films as “original thrillers,” but we can’t help but think the two projects are possibly connected somehow.
“M. Night Shyamalan continues to create exciting, highly original stories that keep global audiences on the edge of their seats,” Universal Pictures president Peter Cramer said in a statement. “There is no one like him: he is a master filmmaker working at the height of his powers, and we are honored that he has once again chosen Universal to be the home for his next two incredible projects.”
Added Shyamalan, “There are wonderful studios out there, but Universal has made it a mandate to release original films. They are the best at finding an audience for new stories with unexpected tones. I believe original films are crucial to the longevity of the theatrical experience.”
Shyamalan’s last three films were at Universal. His 2015 found footage film The Visit was considered the director’s first comeback following a fallow period that began with Lady in the Water and ran through 2013’s box office disaster After Earth. The scaled-down The Visit grossed $98.5 million against a budget of just $5 million, and his next film Split was an even greater success grossing $278.5 million worldwide against a budget of just $9 million. That movie revealed itself to be a surprise Unbreakable sequel, and led to the 2019 release of Glass, Shyamalan’s most star-studded effort in years. That Unbreakable/Split follow-up underperformed, pulling in $274 million worldwide. While that’s a significant profit margin against the $20 million budget, it’s less than Split, which wasn’t even marketed as a sequel to a beloved superhero drama. Moreover, reaction to Glass was somewhat muted, with many disappointed by the twist-filled ending.
Regardless, it appears Universal still wants to stay in the Shyamalan fold, and I’m curious to see what these next two projects are. Like all of his previous films at Universal, Shyamalan will self-finance these next two movies, and Universal will handle distribution.
Has he crafted a two-part story? The similar release date two years apart suggests the films are connected somehow, or perhaps Universal just likes that release window for Shyamalan movies.
Next up for Shyamalan is the release of his psychological thriller AppleTV+ series Servant, for which he directed two episodes including the pilot. AppleTV+ only just released pricing and release date details last week.