M. Night Shyamalan casting next project: Can he get his mojo back?

It’s definitely been a rocky road for M. Night Shyamalan since the director scored Oscar nominations for writing and directing The Sixth Sense over a decade ago. Signs was a massive hit, but The Village disappointed most fans. And I defy you to even remember what The Happening was. I’m not sure how The Last Airbender will fare when it’s released on July 1, but The Hollywood Reporter‘s Heat Vision blog has info on Shyamalan’s next project, a secretive drama that’s said to have three big stars “loosely attached”: Bradley Cooper, Gwyneth Paltrow, and two-time Shyamalan leading man Bruce Willis. So even if he hasn’t directed a smash in a while, Shyamalan still seems to have the magic touch when it comes to attracting A-listers.

So if these top Hollywood stars are willing to give Shyamalan another shot, should we as well? Or is he still dead to you after Lady in the Water?

Related stories:
How writer-director M. Night Shyamalan lost a studio and found a leading man for ‘Lady in the Water’
M. Night Shyamalan’s ‘The Happening’ hyping its R rating
Bryce Dallas Howard, the star of ‘Lady in the Water,’ talks about her second time with Shyamalan
‘Lady in the Water': The EW Review
‘The Happening': The EW Review


Comments (353 total) Add your comment
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  • Cricket

    I’m actually looking forward to Airbender. The previews look pretty great.

    • Stacie


    • avenger

      True true, Airbender looks great but if it bombs (unlikely) his career is pretty much over, a-listers or no a-listers

      • Tim

        Possible, but that’s what they said about “The Happening”. This man just won’t go away. And I like him as a director.

      • MaryJane

        Actually, I enjoyed “The Happening” and I understood it perfectly. But that was the last of his movies that were good, as far as I’m concerned. I’ll wait to judge “The Last Airbender”.

      • Peter

        @MaryJane, that was the last of his movies, period, so that isn’t saying a lot.

    • Laura

      Agreed! Totally looking forward to Airbender. Trailer looks great, it’s based on source material that we already know is good, and Shyamalan didn’t write it. So it’s win-win-win!

      • nodnarb

        Actually, he did write it. Sorry. :)

      • Laura

        Doh! You’re right, nodnarb. BUT… he didn’t write the source material. Also, the writer/producer of the source material is an executive producer on the film. So… I’m still hopeful!

      • nodnarb

        Me too! And hopefully it’s a straightforward script… no need for a twist ending.

    • Kat

      I am not looking forward to Airbender. I really really liked the animated series the film is getting its source material from and in my opinion M. Night has done a lot wrong so far. The special effects look decent but really I think anyone could be capable of that given the money. But the casting and makeup (from what I’ve seen of promo photos)…ehhhh. Oh and it’s ~M. Night~! Gah, he ruined his career. Why did he have to swoop in and ruin this series?

    • GRS62

      Yeah, and so did the traiers for The Happening.

      • rynzi

        ya that’s what i thought too GRS62. I just hope this one turns out good. :D

      • graeme

        He lost me with The Happening. That was beyond bad. It was one of those films that you just don’t understand how the filmmakers thought this was GOOD.

      • KEH

        The Happening should have been called The Pandering. It is actually the only film of his I don’t like and will not watch twice. Both the Village and Lady in the Water if you pay attention have some very strong emotional moments. The Villiage Music Score is one of my all time favorites. This is the key.. You can keep making bubble gum like Transformers or you can take risks and show us something new.. and risks mean the occasional big failure. But with his movies I know I need to sit and watch and pay attention.. Signs scared me more than anything I have seen in years and then made me think about faith… If he can do that with a July 1st opening action flick.. that will be high Art.

      • April

        He lost me with The Village. I kept saying (in a joking way) in the movie theatre the “surprise” ending and everyone laughed but once they saw it was true they were somewhat angry with me.

        I even figured out the “twist” in Unbreakable. I have seen his newer movies but have fallen asleep a quarter of the way through.

        The cinematography in The Village was nice though.

    • Adam

      Short answer to the question in the article’s title –


      I’m sure somewhere out there there’s a graph that charts his movie’s ratings over time. He hasn’t made anything decent since The Sixth Sense…

      • tsanda

        really, have you seen unbreakable or signs? The village is underrated and the music and imagery is great… lady in the water is ok not great…happening we can all agree was terrible

    • Awesome-O

      I loved “Lady In the Water”… Very underrated movie.

      • Michael

        I agree. I don’t understand why it was so hated. Granted, it shouldn’t have won any awards, but it certainly wasn’t intolerable either.

      • who cares

        agreed. it was a good, solid movie. unbreakable was also good. 6th sense was great. signs was pretty good. the village was likewise pretty good. i never saw the happening but the premise seemed interesting. not sure why all the hate for m night shammalamma but at least he hasn’t re-made an 80s tv show yet. but if he were to do so, i’d like to see him tackle ‘ALF’

      • RaivynSkye

        To Who Cares: LOL ALF :D That’s good stuff. I thought Lady in the Water was far better than people give it credit for being, even if it was a little self aggrandizing. Unbreakable was ok but way too predictable. The number one issue with The Happening was the horrible acting on the part of Zooey Deschanel. She seems to be a perfectly lovely person but her acting is horrible in that movie, though she did do a pretty good job in Yes Man.

      • I think

        we may be in the minority, but I’ve liked all his movies. The Happening had a good story, but could have been executed better. I’ll see anything M. Night does. Honestly, 6th Sense was my least favorite. It was very slow.

      • Bearwitch

        Too true! Very underrated! I haven’t read all the comments, mine is… What people don’t remember about Lady in the Water is a fairy tale, and a wonderful one. I have also enjoyed most of his movies (haven’t seen The Happening, yet, but I do own it). My biggest problem has always been that, except for Lady and The Happening, someone has always spoiled the ending for me before I saw the movie. So when I saw Sixth Sense, I already knew the twist. Same with Signs and The Village. And Unbreakable.

    • Serg

      Airbender will not bomb. Read my words. Airbender will be top seller at the box office.

      • therealeverton

        Don’t be too sure. It has alienated a fair amount of it’s fanbase AND opens a day or two after Twighlight, which will eat p a fair amount of the audience Airbender needs.

        I’ll probably take my girls to see it but with the casting and make up (Zuko), not to mention the, Clash of The Titans style, rush job 3D conversion they have lost a LOT of interest in this film.

        Shame because the TV show is excellent and the teaser from last year was superb.

    • Serg

      One last thing. He has like one movie that totally bombed. The rest were GREAT movies and one so so the happening. I like it. The author is the one bombing here. This article sucks.

    • chelsea

      he ruined avatar the last airbender

  • S.O.

    The Happening was totally a EPIC FAIL. But he still has that creative eye to make another good movie (like his previous works: 6th Sense, Unbreakable, Signs).

    If “The Last Airbender” (aka from Conan O’Brien: SneezeFart&Burp Boy, LMAO) has decent reviews & a good word of mouth, I’ll consider watching it.

    • Kat

      I loved SIGNS & Sixth Sense. Loved them. The Last Airbender is a maybe for me. Not a total no, but a maybe. . . !

    • B-

      His twist ending thing could only work in 2010 if he made an anthology movie like “Creepshow” or “Twilight Zone The Movie”. Now everyone is looking for plot twists in his films. So when you have a two hour running time, you can figure out the twist with all that time. If he made a movie with 3 30 minute stories with twists, you can catch people off guard. Airbender is starting to look good to me. I don’t think he is untalented. I just think that people expect things from him, and when he does the unexpected (Lady in the Water) people complain, and when he does the expected (The Happening) people still complain. He can’t win.

      • Peter

        I like the anthology idea. But maybe he should learn to end a story without a shocker twist.

  • Mandy

    I love The Happening.

    • LOL

      It had a creepy quality to it that I liked.

      • DJ

        I liked The Village.

    • Ames

      I didn’t hate it like a lot of people did. I just think he was trying too hard. he just needs to relax and make a good story come to life. He can do it. He’s proved that.

      • Lisa

        I didn’t hate it either. No, I kinda did.
        I just can’t buy Marky Mark as a high school science teacher. That’s nuts.

    • shamaLAMEsucks

      you should have been in the jeep with john liguizamo

    • Lara

      I didn’t hate the Happening either. And what about Unbreakable. That’s a great movie! I also liked the Village, I think the problem is they hyped it to be something it’s not.

    • MaryJane

      The thing about the Happening is that it made you think a lot, and having the possibility that it was the plants getting back at mankind is no different than what Hitchcock did with The Birds. The idea of having nature being the the “enemy” is really quite scary, and I thought it made for great drama.
      When I first saw the 6th Sense, I hated it, and was thoroughly bored to death. It was only after I saw it a 2nd time, that I started paying attention to all of the little details in the movie, that I started to enjoy it. That is the thing about NMS movies, you have to really concentrate on what is really going on and not everybody likes movies like that.

  • Robert Taylor

    Aside from “Lady in the Water,” all of his films have been box office hits. “The Happening” grossed more than a hundred million worldwide. Despite how disappointed fans were with “The Village,” it still made Bryce Dallas Howard a star and grossed three times its budget.

    So despite the critical indifference, there is definitely still a huge audience for the director.

    • DFSF

      The only thing that makes Bryce Howard a “star” is her last name.

      • avenger

        +1, every single movie I’ve ever seen her in (not many mind you) she sucks. No talent, any roles she has gotten are due to her last name

      • Niix Starkyller

        Plenty of people rather like BDH, critics among them. Just because she doesn’t work for you doesn’t mean she has ‘no talent’. And she got the Lady role based on M. Night’s like of her. So, flat out, you’re quite wrong, spiteful, and doubtlessly deeply jealous of the success of others. A little less wrath, a little more zen would serve you well, Avenger.

      • shamaLAMEsucks


    • JM

      Dallas Howard a star? Really? In what universe? She is a talented thespian, but even Megan Fox, with her string of flops and horrible acting garners more press and attention than Howard.

      • jj

        true!!! i dont really undertand the way you americans, yes YOU, measure success. no wonder you are all losers!

      • zx81

        maybe if you work on your English a little harder you will “undertand” (whatever it means)…

      • travist

        hey JJ, way to show your ignorance and broadly paint one group of people with one brush…not saying your whole country is full of losers, but you sure are. keep up the great work.

    • Danny

      I actually really liked The Village. Lady in the Water was enjoyable until the cheesy effects in the end. The Happening though was a real goodwill burner, completely undisciplined. Set pieces – some good, some flat – overwhelming focused storytelling. Loved The Sixth Sense, liked Unbreakable, expected more out of the ending to Signs, which was great until the aliens were revealed. My 2 cents on all that…

      • Kelly V

        Everything thing you said are my thoughts exactly!

      • Rob Loblaw

        Cheesy effects mean the strong armed guy

      • Colleen

        I totally agree. I loved The Village and find BDH mesmerizing in it.

      • Marc

        I actually loved the Village along with all of Signs, Unbreakable, Sixth Sense and liked Lady and thought the Happening was just okay. He is extremely talented and I will go to see any movie he makes.

    • Stewart

      I think it’s more that people went to see The Village because no one believed that he could write such a terrible movie. So they ignored the reviews and went anyway. Then they realized, and never went to one of his movies again.

      • Rob

        I loved The Village. The problem is in the marketing of his films. Every trailer attempts to portray them as horror films, which they aren’t. You must have just missed the point of The Village.

      • KEH

        Its only a terrible film if you aren
        ‘t paying attention.. problem is it was a love story sold as a horror flick..

      • shamaLAMEsucks

        No Rob, I don’t think anyone missed the point of it. It was weak at best. I never once thought it was going to be a horror flick. I expected the same weak ass story lines and jumbled mess of a movie that we’ve all come to despise as ShamaLAME’s work. Rotten Tomato’s gave it 2 stars out of 5 and IMDB gave it 6 of 10. Still think everyone wasn’t paying attention or perhaps some element in it appealed to you more then the average bear? Sounds like someone has a crush on a pale faced, talentless red head actress!

    • ZJ

      Bryce who?

    • fiendishredhead

      OMG! What is wrong with some people? The Village is the only movie I’ve ever immediately started watching again. The twist at the end was such a mindf**k I had to go back to see if there was something I missed. The Village is a great movie and made M. Night my favorite director of all time!

  • M. Kay

    I must say that he makes really great previews. Every time he makes a new movie I go, “Maybe this time. It looks pretty good.” But I am always disappointed. I fear the same fate for Airbender.

  • Denise

    I love Shyamalan! I’ll watch anything he makes.

    • shamaLAMEsucks

      You’re the one! We’ve all been wondering who was behind all of this.

  • beth

    I actually liked the Village…it was a metaphor for my childhood.

    • nodnarb

      It was actually a metaphor for the Bush administration.

      • Billy

        No, it was actually a rip-off of an old “Twilight Zone” episode.

      • Danny

        The Bush years were one long scary twilight zone episode.

    • shamaLAMEsucks

      Okay, glad you think so. It was most definitely NOT a metaphor for your childhood. Perhaps you are drawing comparisons from the movie and your life but it is not a metaphor for your childhood. Moron.

  • Elizabeth

    I think he is a good director and visually his movies are great. He has just got to STOP writing his own movies! It worked for Sixth Sense, but no more. Stick to directing.

    • nodnarb

      This is what I was going to say. Great director. Just needs to find good scripts someone else wrote.

    • Niix Starkyller

      Dunno, I quite preferred Unbreakable over Sixth Sense. I thought The Village was a fun play captured on film. LitW was an interesting rumination on the nature of stories (duh!). The Happening, well, trying really hard to find something positive to say about it. Yeah … well the music was nice.

      • seela

        agreed! Unbreakable is my favorite of his movies.

  • Found

    His last few efforts were completely horrible. Epic failures.

    • Kaitlyn

      Noooo. You gotta love M. Night just like you gotta love the hippies!!! Seriously, I’ve actually liked all of his work, especially “SIGNS”. Everyone, have a nice day!

      • Todo

        You’re much too nice and pleasant for the internet, Kaitlyn.

      • shamaLAMEsucks

        Your statement much like your mental capacity is retarded. Severely retarded. Not mentally handicapped. Retarded. “Just like the hippies?” Moron.

      • EDS

        hahaha, I COMPLETELY agree with this statement. Cheers!

  • annie

    Why all the hate for The Village? Ok, yes I admit that Adrien Brody was absolutely horrid but otherwise I loved M’s concept. I enjoyed it.

    • umm…

      The concept was cool in The Village. It was so cool that it had already been written about years before with the book Running Out of Time. Which is a fantastic read, by the way, and doesn’t involve old people dressing up like hedgehogs.

      • AnnieW

        Yikes I definitely read that book in middle school! I still liked The Village anyway. I also think that even though a few of his movies end up being really lame (LitW The Happening)he takes us on a pretty tense, scarry, and fun path throughout the movie. There were some really scarry parts in The Happening which is what I think Shamalan does best.

    • dawnomite

      I very much liked The Village; it’s one of my favorite movies. I thought Howard, Brody, and Phoenix were excellent in it, and the love story is beautiful.

      • Rob

        Totally agree.

    • Billy

      Except it WASN’T HIS CONCEPT. He lifted the story from an old Twilight Zone episode.

      • allen

        As if there is anything original nowadays? Anything that hasn’t already been done? Really, enough with the bashing.

      • shamaLAMEsucks

        His crowning achievement, The Sixth Sense was a rip off of something I think that was called “Carnival of Souls.” If you comb through the comments you can confirm the title. I saw it appear earlier.

    • Ames

      The Village was saved by the chemistry btw Howard and Phoenix (come back to us Joaquin!) I don’t understand the point about the story being like a Twilight Zone episode. How many movies have truly original concepts anymore? Why specifically back Shyamalan?

  • bob

    I liked Lady in the Water. Much better than the happening. But the 6th sense and signs were definitely his best.

    • Tim

      Agreed, on all points. Lady in the Water is vastly underrated in my opinion. Not a perfect film, but much better and more imaginative than people give it credit.

  • Erin

    I loved The Sixth Sense, but my favorite of his was Unbreakable. He made things like seeing dead people and having “super powers” feel like real issues, and that’s what he needs to get back to for his next movies. Or he can try directing a script that he hasn’t written. That would be an interesting concept…

    • Ceballos

      I’ve been repeating two of you points to anyone who will listen:

      “Unbreakable” is his best movie and, more importantly, he NEEDS to direct a script he hasn’t written. By the time he basically cast himself as an ill-fated writer who was destined to change the world in “Lady in the Water”, he’d already gone too far up his own a$$.

      • Wolf

        Unbreakable was the ONLY good film he ever did. The village had a nice twist that was almost a surprise, the rest were so obvious it spoiled the rest of the film. They are directed for the soap crowd, with sign posted plot and twists. I cannot believe that so many people didn’t get where sixth sense was going in the first 15 minutes. And as for Signs….so many mis-matched story lines with unbelievable characters made it painful.

  • B

    The sixth sense was the only good movie that he has made. All the rest were horrible! He will never be good again….

    • Billy

      Well, it was his BEST movie, that’s for sure. I felt “Signs” was over-rated, “Unbreakable” was good, but everything else he’s done has been a dud.

  • ashley

    I refuse to watch anything by someone who doesn’t have a christian name…

    • Darrell

      You’re an IDIOT!!!

    • Todd

      That has to be one of the most moronic things ever written.

    • nodnarb

      The ironic thing is that Shyamalan went to Catholic schools growing up and several of his films include Christian themes. The Happening was essentially an intelligent design parable.

      • Tim

        What did The Happening have to do with intelligent design? The whole plants coming together to weed out humanity idea strikes me as more naturalism/evolutionary-based than theistic.

    • Ash

      Then why did you read this article about a Non-Christian.. MORON!!

    • amir

      what does his name being christian have to do with the message of his movies? if you examine lady in the water carefully there are references to the bible & the holy trinity

    • allen

      Yet you’ll read an article about him, and take the time to sign up on a website so you can comment to responses about him? Winner.

    • DumanGlume

      “Signs” had an overall pro-Christian theme: a minister loses his faith after the seemingly pointless death of his wife only to regain said faith after realizing that her near-death ramblings were actually premonitions (signs)about how to deal with a future threat to their family.

    • J dog


    • fiendishredhead

      What a tiny world you must live in…and how much beauty/joy/life you’re missing because of your narrow mind.

    • shamaLAMEsucks

      Really? Guess you should probably stop watching movies altogether. Mostly the studios in Hollywood are run by Jews. You know, those funny little people who brought you such wonderful things as Jesus Christ, Jurassic Park, ET, Schindler’s List, Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Ben Hur, The Ten Commandments. Go fill your bathtub, stick your head in and take a really big breath in to wash out all of that crap between your ears.

    • shamaLAMEsucks

      Well odds are she doesn’t believe in contraceptives either and probably has a litter of children so she never gets to watch anything other than children’s movies anyways. Probably geared more towards someone with her mental capacity.

      • Lola

        you scare me

    • AKC

      I don’t know what Bible this person reads, but I don’t think it says anything about deciding anything based on a person’s name. All but one person in the Bible was a sinner no matter how their name was spelled.

  • jack

    The Sixth Sense, Signs, and The Village are the only movies of his that I liked. Ironically, The Sixth Sense doesn’t hold up as well as the other two. Once you know the twist ending, it’s pretty much your standard PG-13 horror movie, albeit with great performances from Willis and Osment. I haven’t liked anything else he’s done. I never thought he would make a worse movie than Unbreakable, then I saw The Happening. I’m skipping this Airbender movie unless I hear great things from lots and lots of people.

    • fish eye no miko

      I actually don’t think “Signs” holds up well at all. Aliens who can be killed by water come to a planet that’s 75+% water, and that regularly has it fall from THE SKY. And they wear NO protective gear?

      And that’s just one of the many issues I have with this film. I’ll admit it scared the piss outta me while I was watching it, but when I thought about it, like, at all after wards… it’s just ludicrous.

      • Pete the Ninja

        Dude,the aliens are like pasta, they are meant to carry the sauce. It isn’t actually about the aliens, its about faith (aka the sauce).

      • jack

        I know what you’re saying, but pay close attention to the movie, it wasn’t just regular water that was harmful to the aliens. It was water treated with chemicals, that’s why they had the little girl talk about being able to taste the chemicals in the water through the whole movie. The aliens didn’t know about the chemicals in the water, that’s not ludicrous. Now, a farmer that doesn’t own a shotgun. I’ll admit, that’s ludicrous, lol.

      • J dog

        Agreed. Those aliens woulda caught serious beat down in Brooklyn

      • Pete the Ninja

        You’re right… a farmer w/out a shotgun IS ludicrous!

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