A New Found Respect for M. Night Shyamalan or is it?

by Joey Paur

I am not the biggest M. Night Shyamalan fan. When I saw ‘The Sixth Sense' I thought Wow! This guy knows what he is doing and he is going to be a driving force in Hollywood. I thought he was going be up there with the big boys and be this new amazing fimmaker. He was the new star director with a huge $672 Million film on his hands. But that soon went away. Look what happens, Unbreakable $248 Million. Signs $408 Million. The Village $256 Million. Lady in the Water $72 Million. Ouch. The shining star had faded. Out of these movies my favorite besides ‘The Sixth Sense' is ‘Unbreakable'. I honestly think that was his best film. The TV show ‘HEROES' is based on M. Nights idea, but on a bigger scale, they won't come out and say it but common. Then his movies just started getting ridiculous, and I haven't really liked anything he has done since ‘Unbreakable'. I'm done with the ‘twists'. I think he has lost it as a filmmaker. But I have gained some respect for his values and his artistic integrity.

The New York Times Ran an article on M. Night recently called ‘Shyamalan's Hollywood Horror Story, with Twist'. This was a great article in which they talk to the man himself and gives us a little insight in his world. The following some highlights:

"He wanted to market "Unbreakable" as a comic-book movie - the tale of an unlikely superhero - but Disney executives insisted on portraying it as a spooky thriller, like "The Sixth Sense."

So it was Disney Fault it didn't get the marketing it deserved! M. Night had a great idea for a marketing campaign and Disney crushed it!

"I remember the moment that it happened, exactly where I was sitting at the table, the speakerphone," he recalled in an interview from his office in a converted farmhouse near Philadelphia. "That moment may have been the biggest mistake that I have to undo over 10 years so the little old lady doesn't go, ‘Oh, he's the guy who makes the scary movies with a twist.' "

And that is what he is still known for. But uh, he is still making horror movies so he wont shake that off anytime soon.

"He also has not been able to undo his reputation in Hollywood as a talented filmmaker who will not play by studio rules. After the success of "The Sixth Sense," he criticized Disney executives, dared to compare his talent to Steven Spielberg's and Alfred Hitchcock's and has steadfastly asserted his reputation as an outsider by refusing to move from Philadelphia to Hollywood."

I like the fact that he wouldn't play by the studios rules. But after one movie he compared himself to Spielberg and Hictcock? That's pretty arrogant. I can see why the studios don't like him. You can't do that after making one movie!

"Mr. Shyamalan, who says he has become press shy, offers no apologies and believes that some of the criticism about him was largely based on his refusal to accept Hollywood norms.

"I have two options: conform to the paths that have been laid out prior to me or deal with it," he said emphatically. "So which one do you suggest I do? I wouldn't be where I am now if I hadn't denied those conventions to begin with."

Yes but when someone gives you an opportunity you need to be nice and have less of an ego or people won't like you. The reason they don't like you is because they all have egos to. Don't become one of them.

"Mr. Shyamalan, who will get his name above the title for "The Happening," still believes that a director's name on the marquee - one that is not Steven Spielberg's - can sell a blockbuster as easily as a star's can.

"The problem is the assumption that if I am selling the movie - because I'm selling me - that I'm being egotistical. If Will Smith did the same thing, it would be perceived very differently," he said. "You're supposed to be hidden if you're a director. That's a rule that who said in the movie business?"

I honestly think his name has lost its flare. But! I agree that he has to market himself. It is a smart move. You want people to know who you are and what films you are making. It's not egotistical it's business. He's making a name brand for himself. All the stars and athletes do it, why can't M. Night?

"As the box office started to stumble, the elements that had made his movies different - the Pennsylvania settings, the themes about faith, the unexpected endings - became a basis for criticism."

This is the point where I am at.

"Mr. Shyamalan broke off his relationship with Disney when he made "Lady in the Water" at Warner Brothers, part of Time Warner. But then he committed the greatest sin of all - he criticized a meeting with Disney studio executives, Nina Jacobson, Dick Cook and Oren Aviv... Mr. Shyamalan accused Ms. Jacobson of not giving his "Lady in the Water" script "a truthful reading" and said that he thought that it had been rejected because Disney "no longer valued individualism."

He also contended that despite Disney's misgivings about making "Lady in the Water," it had ultimately agreed to make the film, but he had refused the offer because he felt that it no longer had faith in him."

Wow. He didn't want his film being tainted by the likes of Disney so he broke his relationship off with them. Even though they were going to move forward with it! That is a huge move. That's big. In a way he didn't sell out to them. I can respect that. He believes in his projects so much he is willing to piss off and create enemies with the people that helped him launch his career. It really hurt him as a filmmaker in Hollywood.

"Twentieth Century Fox, part of News Corporation, hired him to write and direct "The Happening" in part because it is a return to the kind of scary movie brand that made him famous.

"Night in conjunction with this material is a fantastic pairing," said Hutch Parker, now chairman of New Regency, who worked on "The Happening" while at Fox. " ‘The Happening' does draw back in its intentions to what Night first did in ‘The Sixth Sense.' It speaks more directly and clearly to that genre than some of his previous films."

So he is going back to his roots on his next film ‘The Happening'. They are marketing this movie as his first rated ‘R' film. Not sure if that is a good marketing tactic or not. I will say that the movie being rated ‘R' is a bad idea for the fact that he is cutting out a huge chunk of the audience. I'm still not sold on it. I am actually more excited for his next film.

"Mr. Shyamalan is also directing "Avatar: The Last Airbender," a big tent-pole movie based on a Nickelodeon cartoon, scheduled to be released in 2010 for Paramount.
"I obviously did my homework and checked him out before deciding to make the movie. It's a very important movie for us," said John Lesher, president of the Paramount Film Group. "He's collaborative, open to suggestions and wants to make a hit movie. He's open in the right way. You want a filmmaker who has passion and want him to defend why he believes something is correct."

‘Avatar' is different then any thing he has done before I love the story behind the cartoon and I really can't wait to see what M. Night ends up doing with the material and design. I think it will be a good learning experience for him.

"Mr. Shyamalan admits to being slightly more open now. In an effort to dispel perceptions in Hollywood that he is arrogant, he has spent more time in Los Angeles recently. But while saying that he is sorry for any hurt feelings at Disney, he still does not understand why many in Hollywood are so critical of him for turning down Disney's offer.

"You'd want me to take the money? You'd want me to whore out. That's what they wanted me to do," he said. "You know how hard it is not to do the conservative thing out there?"

He really does seem like he comes off as an arrogant person, but honestly the majority of Hollywood is, so it's no big surprise. I do like M. Night's last statement though. Although, he could just be saying that. I know many people out there that are hotheads, and if they don't get their way they will do something in the heat of the moment that they can't take back. That is one way it could have all went down as well, but who is going to admit that?

-Dr. Venkman