Glass (2019 film)
U.K. theatrical release poster
|Directed by||M. Night Shyamalan|
|Written by||M. Night Shyamalan|
|Music by||West Dylan Thordson|
|Box office||$247 million|
Glass is a 2019 American psychological superhero thriller film written and directed by M. Night Shyamalan, who also produced with Jason Blum, Marc Bienstock, and Ashwin Rajan. The film is a crossover and sequel to Shyamalan’s previous films Unbreakable (2000) and Split (2016), serving as the final installment in the Unbreakable trilogy. Bruce Willis, Samuel L. Jackson, Spencer Treat Clark, and Charlayne Woodard reprise their Unbreakable roles, while James McAvoy and Anya Taylor-Joy return as their Split characters, with Sarah Paulson, Adam David Thompson, and Luke Kirby joining the cast.
Despite interest in a sequel, Touchstone Pictures opted not to finance one. Shyamalan set out to write Split using a character he had written for Unbreakable but pulled from its script due to balance issues. Shyamalan realized the opportunity he had to create a trilogy of works, and used the ending of Split to establish the film as within the Unbreakable narrative. This included securing the rights to use Willis’s Unbreakable character from Walt Disney Studios, with the promise of including Disney within the production and distribution of this third film alongside Universal Pictures. Split was a financial and critical success, and by April 2017, Shyamalan announced that he started the production process for Glass.
The film had its world premiere at Alamo Drafthouse Cinema on January 12, 2019 and was released in the United States on January 18, 2019, by Universal Pictures. It grossed $247 million worldwide against a $20 million production budget. Glass received "generally unfavorable reviews" from critics, who found the film "disappointing" and "underwhelming".
Nineteen years after the train crash and its aftermath, and three weeks after the "Horde" incident, superhuman David Dunn is now a vigilante dubbed "the Overseer" by the Internet. Dunn and his son Joseph pursue Kevin Wendell Crumb, another superhuman, dubbed “the Horde” by the media due to his dissociative identity disorder which produced two dozen identities, who captured three young girls.[a] David tracks down Kevin to an abandoned factory where he has four cheerleaders hostage, but he is then confronted by Kevin’s most dangerous personality, the Beast, who also possesses superhuman strength and durability. Their battle is interrupted by a group of police officers led by Dr. Ellie Staple, who places both men in Raven Hill Memorial Mental Institute. David’s destined foe and terrorist – Elijah Price / Mr. Glass – is also being held there for sabotaging the train David was a passenger on nineteen years ago (the train crash of which David was the sole survivor and which exposed his superhuman nature).[b] David and Kevin are placed in separate rooms, each with unique security measures to prevent them from escaping or posing a threat; David’s room has a high-powered sprinkler system, as water causes him to become so weak as to be unable to stand, while Kevin’s room has a system of “hypnotic lights” that force him to randomly change personalities when activated, thus neutralizing the Beast.
Staple explains that her job is to convince those who believe they are superhuman that in fact they are simply suffering delusions of grandeur; she tells David, Elijah, and Kevin that she has been given three days to convince them of this, otherwise they will be sent to trial. Elijah’s mother, Joseph, and Casey, a girl who survived the Horde’s imprisonment,[a] all visit at different occasions, but fail to convince Staple that the three men’s superhuman abilities exist. As part of her final evaluation, Staple brings the three men to a room together where she tests David and Kevin’s psyches; she concludes that both men’s gifts are completely natural, with David’s delusion being stimulated by a head injury from the train crash, whilst Kevin’s was caused by his traumatic childhood of long term abuse from his mother and the unexplained absence of his father. The results distress David and angers the Horde, who both lose faith in the notion they are superhumans. Elijah, however, remains seemingly sedated throughout, despite Staple’s best efforts.
That night, Elijah, who feigned his sedated state, escapes his cell to research Kevin, but is discovered by Staple who performs a prefrontal lobotomy on him. However, Elijah had previously anticipated this and sabotaged the surgical laser, causing it to have no effect on him. He is returned to his cell, but escapes again after killing his caretaker Daryl. He then frees Kevin and allies himself with the Beast. Elijah then contacts David and announces his plan to reveal the Beast to the world at a new skyscraper in the city of Philadelphia, where he also plans to blow up a chemical company unless David stops the Beast. As a result, David accepts his powers once more and uses them to break out of his cell and pursue his two enemies.
Mrs. Price, Joseph, Casey, and Staple all arrive at the institution just as the three superhumans escape. David faces off against the Beast outside the institution; they fight again and are evenly matched. Elijah tells the Beast that water is David’s weakness, but Joseph intervenes and reveals that Kevin’s father didn’t leave, but instead was killed in the same train crash David survived and Elijah caused by sabotaging the train. Elijah justifies his actions, stating the incident left Kevin alone with his mother to abuse him, which caused the creation of his personalities. Although the Beast thanks Elijah for creating him, he mortally wounds Elijah by slowly breaking the bones in his body. The Beast does this because Elijah’s actions have shown that he cannot be trusted. David intervenes, but the Beast attacks him by throwing him into a water tank. David is able to escape the tank, but is left severely weakened by the water. The Beast retreats, promising to finish their battle at the tower. Before the Beast can escape, however, Casey intercepts him and summons Kevin to "the light". Kevin is then fatally shot by a sniper working for Staple. The Horde gives Kevin control of "the light", and he dies in Casey’s arms. One of Staple’s men kill David by drowning him in a puddle. Staple informs David that she is part of a clandestine organization working to murder superhumans, because it is "unfair" for them to possess special abilities. She then goes to a dying Elijah and explains that the people she works for have suppressed and hunted superhuman heroes and villains for millennia to prevent potential superhumans from realizing their true potential. Elijah dies in his mother’s arms, satisfied that he was right about the existence of superhumans.
With all three superhumans dead, Staple deletes the footage from the institution’s security cameras to report her mission to her superiors as a success. However, she discovers that Elijah had previously hacked the computers and live-streamed the security footage to a private network, and realizes that he never really intended to attack the tower, as the institution’s security cameras provided him with all the evidence he needed. Mrs. Price, Joseph, and Casey all receive copies of the security footage and release it to the public, revealing the existence of superhumans to the world.
- James McAvoy as Kevin Wendell Crumb / The Horde: A twenty-seven year old who is a former Philadelphia Zoo employee with 23 different personalities whose body chemistry changes with each personality, culminating in a 24th personality known as "The Beast", a savage superhuman cannibal whose abilities include wall-crawling, enhanced strength, speed, durability, and agility.
- Owen Vitullo portrays an 8-year-old Kevin.
- Bruce Willis as David Dunn / The Overseer: A superhuman vigilante with enhanced strength and durability, as well as the ability to see the crimes people have committed by touching them. In the film, Dunn goes by a new alias, "The Overseer".
- Colin Becker portrays a 10-year-old David.
- Samuel L. Jackson as Elijah Price / Mr. Glass: An intelligent mass murderer and comic book theorist with Type I osteogenesis imperfecta, who was institutionalized after David Dunn discovered his crimes.
- William Turner portrays a young Elijah
- Johnny Hiram Jamison plays a 13-year-old Elijah via photographs.
- Sarah Paulson as Dr. Ellie Staple: A psychiatrist specializing in delusions of grandeur who treats patients convinced they are superhuman beings and attempts to prove Dunn, Price and Crumb are not superhumans by any means she finds.
- Anya Taylor-Joy as Casey Cooke: A 17-year-old girl with a history of abuse who was kidnapped by one of Kevin’s identities as a potential sacrifice to "The Beast" but managed to survive.
- Spencer Treat Clark as Joseph Dunn: David’s son who has believed in his father’s abilities since he was a child and sees him as a real-life superhero.
- Charlayne Woodard as Mrs. Price: Elijah’s mother, who took great care of her son, and always told him he was special no matter what others said.
- Luke Kirby as Pierce: One of Elijah’s caretakers at the facility.
- Adam David Thompson as Daryl: An employee at the psych ward.
M. Night Shyamalan reprises his cameo role of Jai, the security guard from Dr. Fletcher’s apartment building in Split, who recognizes and questions David Dunn if he worked at the football stadium, indicating that Jai is also the same stadium drug dealer from Unbreakable that David confronted. Additionally, Shannon Destiny Ryan, Diana Silvers, Nina Wisner, and Kyli Zion portrayed the cheerleaders at the start of the film whom one of Kevin’s personalities kidnapped. Rosemary Howard and Bryan McElroy portray Kevin’s parents, Penelope and Clarence, Howard reprising her role from Split.
After Unbreakable's release in 2000, rumors of possible sequels began circulating in different interviews and in film fansites. In 2000, Bruce Willis was quoted as hoping for an Unbreakable trilogy. In December 2000, M. Night Shyamalan denied rumors he had written Unbreakable as the first installment of a trilogy. In August 2001, he stated that because of successful DVD sales, he had approached Touchstone Pictures about an Unbreakable sequel, an idea Shyamalan said the studio originally declined because of the film's disappointing box office performance.
In September 2008, Shyamalan and Samuel L. Jackson's stated discussions about making a sequel had been largely abandoned in light of the disappointing box office returns. Jackson indicated he was still interested in a sequel, but Shyamalan remained noncommittal. In February 2010, Willis said that Shyamalan was "still thinking about doing the fight movie between me and Sam" and stated that as long as Jackson was able to participate, he would be "up for it".
Shyamalan continued to work on other films, releasing Split in 2017. Kevin Wendell Crumb, played by James McAvoy, is a man suffering from dissociative identity disorder, that affects his body chemistry to such an extent that he adopts the mannerisms of each separate persona. One of these personalities is "The Beast", which drives Crumb's body into a feral superhuman state, guided by the desire to consume those who have not had a traumatic situation in their lives – those it does not consider "broken". Crumb had initially been written into the script for Unbreakable, but Shyamalan felt there were balancing issues with his inclusion and removed him from the story. Split was effectively rewritten from some of the scenes he had planned for Crumb and expanded out into a standalone picture.
The final scene for Split includes the appearance of David Dunn, played by Willis. Shyamalan included Dunn there to connect Split to Unbreakable, by showing Dunn learning about the escape of "The Beast" and thereby realizing that other superhumans exist, as predicted by Mr. Glass (Jackson). In 2017, Shyamalan stated although he hoped a third Unbreakable film would be made and already had an outline prepared, "I don't know what's going to happen when I go off in my room, a week after this film opens, to write the script."
Unbreakable had been produced for and owned by Touchstone Pictures, a label of Walt Disney Studios, while Split was produced through Universal Pictures. Shyamalan obtained permission from Disney to reuse the character of Dunn. He met with Walt Disney Studios president Sean Bailey and came to a gentlemen's agreement whereby Bailey agreed to allow the use of the character in the film without a fee, and Shyamalan promised that Disney would be involved in a sequel, if developed.
Split was met with critical and financial success and, in February 2017, Shyamalan affirmed his next film would be the third work in the trilogy. Shyamalan finished the script by April 2017, announcing that it would be called Glass and have a target release date of January 18, 2019. Universal was selected to distribute the film in the United States, while Disney distributes the film internationally through its Buena Vista International label.
The cast includes returning actors from both films: Bruce Willis, Samuel L. Jackson, Spencer Treat Clark, and Charlayne Woodard from Unbreakable and James McAvoy and Anya Taylor-Joy from Split, all reprise their respective roles, while Sarah Paulson plays a new character. In November 2017, Adam David Thompson joined the cast in a then undisclosed role.
Principal photography began on October 2, 2017, in Philadelphia, following a week of rehearsals, with plans for a thirty-nine–day shoot. On October 31, 2017, it was reported that Shyamalan would be filming at Allentown State Hospital for a few weeks. On December 12, 2017, Shyamalan revealed that four scenes would be shot in January 2018, stating he would have to travel for their filming.
Deleted footage from Unbreakable was used as flashbacks to Elijah and Joseph's childhood.
West Dylan Thordson returned to score the film after his collaboration with the director on Split. He used themes from the score of Unbreakable by James Newton Howard, alongside that of Split, in composing Glass's music. The score is distributed digitally by Back Lot Music.
On April 25, 2018, the film was featured at CinemaCon, with Shyamalan in attendance. He presented footage from the film, along with the first official image, featuring Willis, Jackson, and McAvoy in character. He also expressed his intention for the film, saying, "The worlds of Unbreakable and Split finally collide in Glass. What if these real life superheroes and super-villains are somehow locked up together? What could go wrong?" Despite being preceded by hyper-realistic films about superheroes and villains, like The Dark Knight, Shyamalan personally considered Glass to be the "first truly grounded comic book movie". On July 12, 2018, the first official photographs from production were released publicly, including shots of Samuel L. Jackson, Sarah Paulson, and James McAvoy. On July 20, 2018, the film was promoted at San Diego Comic-Con, with Shyamalan, Willis, Jackson, Taylor-Joy, and Paulson attending a panel, where the film’s first trailer premiered.
Glass was theatrically released on January 18, 2019, in the United States and Canada by Universal Pictures and in international territories by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures, through their Buena Vista International label. The first screening for Glass occurred on January 12, 2019, at 25 Alamo Drafthouse Cinema locations.
Glass was released by Universal Pictures Home Entertainment in the U.S., and Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment internationally, under the Buena Vista Home Entertainment label, on digital on April 2, 2019, and on Blu-Ray and DVD on April 16, 2019.
Glass grossed $111 million in the United States and Canada, and $135.9 million in other territories, for a total worldwide gross of $247 million, against a production budget of $20 million.
In the United States and Canada, Glass was projected to make $50–75 million from 3,841 theaters over its four-day MLK Day opening weekend. It made $16 million on its first day, including $3.7 million from Thursday night previews, and went on to gross $40.5 million in its opening weekend, and $46.5 million over the four days, marking the third-best total for Martin Luther King Jr. weekend and of Shyamalan’s career. In its second weekend the film fell 53% to $19 million (a steeper drop than Split’s 35%), albeit retaining the top spot at the box office. The film then finished first for a third straight weekend, grossing $9.5 million, before finally being dethroned in its fourth weekend, grossing $6.3 million and finishing fifth.
Internationally, the film was expected to gross $45–50 million in its first weekend, for a total of global opening of $105–120 million. It ended up making $48.5 million from international markets, with a global opening of $89.1 million. It finished first in most markets; its highest-grossing countries were Russia ($5.2 million), Mexico ($4.5 million, the best-ever for a Shyamalan film), the United Kingdom ($4.3 million), France ($3.4 million), and South Korea ($2.8 million).
On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 37% based on 355 reviews, with an average rating of 5.14/10. The website’s critical consensus reads: "Glass displays a few glimmers of M. Night Shyamalan at his twisty world-building best, but ultimately disappoints as the conclusion to the writer-director's long-gestating trilogy."  On Metacritic, which assigns weighted average ratings to reviews, the film has a score of 43 out of 100, based on 53 critics. Audiences polled by CinemaScore they gave the film an average grade of "B" on an A+ to F scale, down from Split's "B+" but up from Unbreakable's "C", while those at PostTrak gave it an overall positive score of 70% and a "definite recommend" of 49%.
David Ehrlich of IndieWire gave the film a "C−" and called it the biggest disappointment of Shyamalan’s career: "The trouble with Glass isn't that its creator sees his own reflection at every turn, or that he goes so far out of his way to contort the film into a clear parable for the many stages of his turbulent career; the trouble with Glass is that its mildly intriguing meta-textual narrative is so much richer and more compelling than the asinine story that Shyamalan tells on its surface." Writing for Rolling Stone, David Fear gave the film three out of five stars "Glass is not the flaming flop some folks have already suggested it is, nor is it the movie you want in terms of tying ambitious, highfalutin’ notions together about how we process our pulp mythos. In a world in which all movies are now either genocide or ice cream, it's a grand gesture characterized by a sense of ambivalence about what you've just seen – which may in and of itself be a sign of failure".
Owen Gleiberman of Variety wrote: "It's good to see Shyamalan back (to a degree) in form, to the extent that he's recovered his basic mojo as a yarn spinner. But Glass occupies us without haunting us; it's more busy than it is stirring or exciting. Maybe that's because revisiting this material feels a touch opportunistic, and maybe it's because the deluge of comic-book movies that now threatens to engulf us on a daily basis has leeched what's left of the mystery out of comics." Richard Roeper of the Chicago Sun-Times called the film "an underwhelming, half-baked, slightly sour, and even off-putting finale." Joshua Rivera of GQ magazine stated "The timeline is barely comprehensible, with twists so openly telegraphed they’d have saved the Titanic." 
David Sims of The Atlantic compared the film to Batman Returns and Incredibles 2: "I appreciate the sheer brashness of Shyamalan's storytelling, which swirls the mythmaking inherent in characters such as David with the emotional scars borne by orphaned characters such as Superman." Praise was also reserved for McAvoy who "once again [was] top notch" and "lit up the screen with his eerie physicality every time he appears."
M. Night Shyamalan has been asked numerous times if there would be any sequel for Glass. On January 8, 2019, he officially confirmed that no sequels are currently planned, saying he has no interest building a cinematic universe.
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