You’ve Been Struck By, A Smooth Shyamalan

You’ve Been Struck By, A Smooth Shyamalan

For the second weekend in a row now, Glass has remained number one at the box office, earning an estimated $73,425,575 domestic, and $162,827,798 worldwide. This is an astounding feat for Shyamalan, on par with the release of the previous film in this franchise, Split, which by the fourteen-day mark had earned an approximate sixty-five million dollars domestically. The difference between the two, however, is quite outstanding.

The Legacy Thus Far.

Split opened in at the Fantastic Fest film festival on September 26th, 2016 to great praise and critical acclaim. They called it Shyamalan’s comeback, after already showcasing his original talent with 2015’s The Visit. Glass however was headed straight for a theatrical release, without testing the waters in the festival circuit. A few days before wide release, the embargo was lifted, and critics were able to expunge their thoughts to the world on the latest installment by M. Night Shyamalan. From day one, critics despised it. Within hours it had earned a 37% on Rotten Tomatoes and was soon joined by a 42/100 on Metacritic. This was to be expected by some of his earlier turns, Avatar: The Last Airbender, Lady in the Water, or After Earth, given his average score on Rotten Tomatoes for films he both wrote and directed was a hapless 45%. But this is the Shyamalan renaissance we’re talking about; he’s bound for his next Sixth Sense! The leading argument critics held for Glass was that there was either not enough substance or not enough mind-numbing action for the palette of the individual. This divided viewpoint was about to become a lot more complicated.

 
Ed Oxenbould in  The Visit , courtesy of Universal Pictures

Ed Oxenbould in The Visit, courtesy of Universal Pictures

 

The Trademark Twist.

As viewer interest grew higher, and critical ratings deflated by the review, Glass was finally reaching its release date. This is the culmination that many have been yearning for since 2000’s Unbreakable introduced us to the world of David Dunn and Elijah Price. I will admit, as a member of the movie theater industry I was concerned by the growing hatred from members of the press, thinking that perhaps its original estimate of fifty million dollars at the domestic box office was improbable. Finally, on January 17th, on a cold Thursday night, the film saw its first open show. A motley crew piled in, excited, popcorn in hand and a cool drink in the other. Their film began, and as the minutes ticked by, I planned my response to when they told me the film dove far below their expectations. Finally, about two hours and eight minutes later, the doors opened, and patrons poured out. But their heads weren’t hung in sorrow as I’d expected, nor did they avoid my faux-apologetic face at their let down, but they smiled. Every customer went on and on about how it lived up to the previous installments, and that they would need to catch it a second time, in order to digest Shyamalan's complexities in his storytelling. I was understandably baffled but assumed I’d gotten a lucky crowd. I was proven wrong, however, when night after night, showtime after showtime, the customers all came out singing the film's praises, and excitedly awaiting the prospect of a new trilogy at the hands of the genius himself. According to Rotten Tomatoes, 77% of audiences liked the film, giving it an average rating of 3.9 out of 5 stars, tracking within centimeters of the same praise that Split had received. In perfect Shyamalan style, the film came with quite the shocking twist.

 
James McAvoy in  Glass  photo by Jessica Kourkounis, courtesy of Universal Pictures

James McAvoy in Glass photo by Jessica Kourkounis, courtesy of Universal Pictures

 

The Reality of the Situation.

This looks, from the outside peering in, as another case of “the critics were wrong” or “Rotten Tomatoes screws it up again”, which many feel is the case about a certain dark franchise, but this has a far different implication. Shyamalan is no stranger to releasing sub-par content, with many lifelong Shyamalan advocates writing him off as another Michael Bay after Avatar: The Last Airbender, but in the eyes of audiences, and especially fans of his greater works, he drove himself to redemption. He created a perfect storm, enticing a smaller audience in with The Visit, and then shortly after opening his mind up again to a wider crowd with Split, and now, finally, with the division that surrounds the release of Glass, he has made himself immune to the negative effects of poor reviews. No matter what he releases next, it doesn’t matter if it’s comparable to The Sixth Sense, or a dead fish on land, like After Earth, whatever film comes from his pen is bound to be successful. If it opens with horrid reviews, audiences will remember how much they loved Glass and think, “I’m sure the critics are wrong again.” And even if they don’t like that film, they’ll still come out to see whatever Shyamalan puts out following that, chasing that electric feeling that his finer works deliver. Glass is M. Night Shyamalan's masterpiece, without even having to see the film.

Revisiting: Border

Revisiting: Border

Glass, Split, and Why I Can't Not Care

Glass, Split, and Why I Can't Not Care