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January 07, 2019

M. Night Shyamalan on twist endings: They're 'not the moonwalk'

The writer/producer/director's film 'Glass' will premiere in theaters on Jan. 18.

Movies Directors
glass trailer m night shyamalan Screen capture/YouTube

A still from M. Night Shyamalan's trailer for "Glass."

In less than two weeks, M. Night Shyamalan will debut arguably the most anticipated film of his career.

"Glass," the third installment of a trilogy that began with "Unbreakable" (2000) and ramped up with "Split" (2017), will complete the comic book universe Shyamalan conceived as a young writer-director.

Or will it? That depends on how well the self-financed film, whose $20 million budget is modest for the movie's scale, fares with Shyamalan's fickle audiences.

They tend to expect that perfect twist ending attached to everything the Penn Valley native does. He's got news for them, though.

"It’s not like it’s a dance move," Shyamalan told Vulture, discussing the ups and downs of his career. "It’s not the moonwalk. If it was, then it would be a burden — All right, when’s he gonna do the moonwalk?"

Shyamalan struck a nerve with "Split," another film he made for just $10 million of his own money. It made nearly $300 million globally, which is as much as some of the budgets for Hollywood's biggest studio films.

Part of the appeal in "Split" was the perfectly cast James McAvoy spanning 23 personalities — all of them discomfiting, some of them likable — under one deranged predator known as The Beast. The same can be said for the natural chemistry between Bruce Willis and Samuel L. Jackson in "Unbreakable," a pairing that came together almost randomly at a casino in Casablanca, Morocco

Even McAvoy's role in "Split" was the product of a run-in at Comic Con, where Shyamalan was promoting "The Visit" (2015), he told Vulture.

This time around, all three characters are being treated for "superpower delusions" at a mental institution that fails to realize they may be delusional, but they also do have superpowers.

Shyamalan's fans found out the twist in his own story was that the first two films were connected all along. "Glass" will even include deleted scenes from "Unbreakable" that had been left in a time-capsule in case the director got his opportunity to complete the trilogy.

Oddly, the fate of this film doesn't weigh as heavily as it did when Shyamalan was younger. 

"Failure is very cleansing, and success is very confusing," said Shyamalan, who shared the same sentiment in his commencement speech at Drexel University last year. "Whatever happens with 'Glass,' good or bad, I just want to go back to the blank piece of paper again and feel a connection to whatever the next idea is."

"Glass" premieres in theaters Jan. 18.