Shyamalan redeemed: Split opens at #1 with over $40 million

M. Night Shyamalan Split Anya Taylor-Joy

For a while, M. Night Shyamalan was one of the most popular directors working in Hollywood. As he followed his smash hit breakthrough film THE SIXTH SENSE with UNBREAKABLE and SIGNS, some were hyping him up as "The Next Spielberg". But somewhere around the twist ending of THE VILLAGE, his public perception took a hit as the critical reception of his films turned rotten. LADY IN THE WATER, THE HAPPENING, THE LAST AIRBENDER, AFTER EARTH, they all received a beating, and the Shyamalan brand had been so tarnished by the time AFTER EARTH rolled around that his name wasn't even used as a drawing point in the marketing.

The most well-received film Shyamalan was involved with between 2002 and 2015 was 2010's DEVIL, which he produced and co-wrote. It appears that he took note of that film's reception, as he has used the DEVIL formula - a thrilling concept paired with a low budget - to build a comeback for himself. Horror fans know that is also the formula Blumhouse Productions has been using to great success in the genre in recent years, and Shyamalan wisely teamed with Blumhouse on his 2015 found footage thriller THE VISIT. The result? His most positive critical reception in over a decade and a film that raked in nearly $100 million at the global box office on a budget of just $5 million.

Shyamalan and Blumhouse have another hit on their hands with the newly released SPLIT, which just had a huge opening weekend in the U.S. SPLIT opened at #1 with $40.2 million, which is both the fourth highest January opening of all time and the fourth highest opening weekend of Shyamalan's career. Going into the weekend, box office analysts had been predicting an opening in the high teens or low twenties; the film doubled expectations.

Once again, Shyamalan is getting positive reviews and making money with a low budget (under $10 million) genre picture. Clearly he has found the way to work himself back into the good graces of critics and audience members. It looks like Shyamalan is officially back.

Starring James McAvoy, Anya Taylor-Joy, Betty Buckley, Jessica Sula, and Haley Lu Richardson, SPLIT tells the following story:

While the mental divisions of those with dissociative identity disorder have long fascinated and eluded science, it is believed that some can also manifest unique physical attributes for each personality, a cognitive and physiological prism within a single being.

Though Kevin (James McAvoy) has evidenced 23 personalities to his trusted psychiatrist, Dr. Fletcher (Betty Buckley), there remains one still submerged who is set to materialize and dominate all the others. Compelled to abduct three teenage girls led by the willful, observant Casey (Anya Taylor-Joy, The Witch), Kevin reaches a war for survival among all of those contained within him—as well as everyone around him—as the walls between his compartments shatter apart.

While SPLIT does have a 76% "fresh" rating on Rotten Tomatoes, our own Eric Walkuski wasn't overly impressed by the film, giving it a 5/10 review.

M. Night Shyamalan Split James McAvoy Anya Taylor-Joy

Extra Tidbit: Did you see SPLIT?



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