M. Night Shyamalan

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M. Night Shyamalan
M. Night Shyamalan by Gage Skidmore.jpg
Shyamalan in 2016
BornManoj Nelliyattu Shyamalan
(1970-08-06) August 6, 1970 (age 48)
Mahé, Puducherry, India
ResidenceWillistown, Pennsylvania, US
CitizenshipUnited States[1]
Alma materTisch School of the Arts, New York University
OccupationDirector, screenwriter, author, producer, actor
Years active1992–present
Home townPhiladelphia, Pennsylvania
Spouse(s)
Bhavna Vaswani (m. 1993)
Children3

Manoj Nelliyattu "M. Night" Shyamalan[1][a] (/ˈʃɑːməlɑːn/;[2] born August 6, 1970)[3] is an American film director, producer, and screenwriter. He is known for making films with contemporary supernatural plots and twist endings. He was born in Mahé, India and raised in Penn Valley, Pennsylvania.

His most well-received films include the supernatural thriller The Sixth Sense (1999), the superhero thriller Unbreakable (2000), the science fiction thriller Signs (2002), and the historical thriller The Village (2004). For The Sixth Sense, Shyamalan received a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Director. Afterward, Shyamalan released a series of poorly received but sometimes financially successful movies, including the dark fantasy Lady in the Water (2006), the eco-thriller The Happening (2008), the film adaptation of The Last Airbender (2010), and the science fiction film After Earth (2013). Following the financial failure of After Earth, Shyamalan's career was revived with the successful release of the found footage horror film The Visit (2015) and the psychological thriller Split (2016). His next film is the superhero thriller Glass (2019), which is the third and final chapter of the Eastrail 177 Trilogy.

In addition to his directorial work, Shyamalan was a producer for the horror film Devil (2010). He was also instrumental in the creation of the Fox science fiction series Wayward Pines (2015–2016), for which he executive produced and directed the pilot episode.

Shyamalan is also known for filming and setting his films in and around Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where he was raised. Most of his commercially successful films were co-produced and released by the Walt Disney Studios' Touchstone and Hollywood film imprints. In 2008, Shyamalan was awarded the Padma Shri by the government of India.[4]

Early life[edit]

Shyamalan was born in Mahé,[5] a town in the Indian Union Territory of Puducherry. The son of Indian parents,[6] his father, Dr. Nelliate C. Shyamalan, is a Malayali neurologist from Mahé and graduated with a medical degree from JIPMER,[7] while his mother, Dr. Jayalakshmi, is an ethnic Tamil who is an obstetrician and gynecologist by profession.[8]

Shyamalan's parents immigrated to the United States when he was six weeks old. Shyamalan was raised in his hometown of Penn Valley, Pennsylvania, an affluent suburb of Philadelphia. Shyamalan was raised Hindu.[9] He attended the private Roman Catholic grammar school Waldron Mercy Academy, followed by the Episcopal Academy, a private Episcopal high school located at the time in Merion, Pennsylvania. Shyamalan earned the New York University Merit Scholarship in 1988.[10] Shyamalan is an alumnus of New York University's Tisch School of the Arts, in Manhattan,[11] graduating in 1992. It was while studying there that he adopted "Night" as his second name.[12]

Shyamalan had an early desire to be a filmmaker when he was given a Super 8 camera at a young age. Though his father wanted him to follow in the family practice of medicine, his mother encouraged him to follow his passion.[13] By the time he was seventeen, the Steven Spielberg fan had made forty-five home movies. On each DVD release of his films (beginning with The Sixth Sense and with the exception of Lady in the Water), he has included a scene from one of these childhood movies, which he feels represents his first attempt at the same kind of film.[citation needed]

Career[edit]

Shyamalan at a press conference
for The Happening in 2008.

Shyamalan made his first film, the semi-autobiographical drama Praying with Anger, while still a student at NYU, using money borrowed from family and friends.[14] He wrote and directed his second movie, Wide Awake. His parents were the film's associate producers. The drama dealt with a ten-year-old Catholic schoolboy (Joseph Cross) who, after the death of his grandfather (Robert Loggia), searches for God. The film's supporting cast included Dana Delany and Denis Leary as the boy's parents, as well as Rosie O'Donnell, Julia Stiles, and Camryn Manheim. Wide Awake was filmed in a school Shyamalan attended as a child[15] and earned 1999 Young Artist Award nominations for Best Drama, and, for Cross, Best Performance.[16] Only in limited release, the film grossed $305,704 in theaters, against a $6 million budget.[17]

That same year Shyamalan co-wrote the screenplay for Stuart Little with Greg Brooker. In 2013, he revealed he was the ghostwriter for the 1999 film She's All That, a teen comedy starring Freddie Prinze Jr. and Rachel Leigh Cook.[18] However, this statement has come into question as the credited screenwriter for the film, R. Lee Fleming Jr., denied Shyamalan's involvement in a now deleted tweet.[19]

Shyamalan gained international recognition when he wrote and directed 1999's The Sixth Sense, which was a commercial success and later nominated for six Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Original Screenplay.

In July 2000, on The Howard Stern Show, Shyamalan said he had met with Steven Spielberg and was in early talks to write the script for the fourth Indiana Jones film. This would have given Shyamalan a chance to work with his longtime idol.[20] After the film fell through, Shyamalan later said it was too "tricky" to arrange and "not the right thing" for him to do.[21]

Shyamalan followed The Sixth Sense by writing and directing Unbreakable, released in 2000, which received positive reviews and commercial success.

Shyamalan's name was linked with the 2001 film Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, but it conflicted with the production of Unbreakable. In July 2006, while doing press tours for Lady in the Water, Shyamalan had said he was still interested in directing one of the last two Harry Potter films: "The themes that run through it...the empowering of children, a positive outlook...you name it, it falls in line with my beliefs", Shyamalan said. "I enjoy the humor in it. When I read the first Harry Potter and was thinking about making it, I had a whole different vibe in my head of it".[22]

His 2002 film Signs, where he also played Ray Reddy, gained both critical and financial success. His next movie The Village (2004) received mixed reviews from the critics, but turned out to be a financial success.

M. Night Shyamalan and Bryce Dallas Howard at the Spanish premiere of The Village (in the San Sebastián International Film Festival, 2006).

After the release of The Village in 2004, Shyamalan had been planning a film adaptation of Yann Martel's novel Life of Pi with 20th Century Fox, but later backed out so that he could make Lady in the Water. "I love that book. I mean, it's basically [the story of] a kid born in the same city as me [Pondicherry, India] — it almost felt predestined", Shyamalan said. "But I was hesitant because the book has kind of a twist ending. And I was concerned that as soon as you put my name on it, everybody would have a different experience. Whereas if someone else did it, it would be much more satisfying, I think. Expectations, you've got to be aware of them. I'm wishing them all great luck. I hope they make a beautiful movie".[23]

Released in 2006, Lady in the Water performed worse critically and financially than his previous films. The film The Happening (2008) was a financial success but also received negative reviews. In 2010, he directed The Last Airbender, based on the Nickelodeon TV series Avatar: The Last Airbender. It received extremely negative reviews in the United States and won five Razzie Awards, but it made nearly $320 million internationally at the box office.

In July 2008, it was announced that Shyamalan had partnered with Media Rights Capital to form a production company called Night Chronicles. Shyamalan would produce, but not direct, one film a year for three years.[24] The first of the three films was Devil, a supernatural thriller directed by siblings John and Drew Dowdle. The script was written by Brian Nelson, based on an original idea from Shyamalan.[25] The movie was about a group of people stuck in an elevator with the devil, and starred Chris Messina.[26] The film was not previewed by critics before its release, eventually receiving mixed reviews. Devil was not a blockbuster hit, but has become a commercial success relative to its budget. The next film in the Night Chronicles series will be called Reincarnate. It will be scripted by Chris Sparling and directed by Daniel Stamm.

In 2013, Shyamalan directed the film After Earth, based on a script by Gary Whitta and starring Will Smith and Jaden Smith. It was received poorly by critics, with Rotten Tomatoes giving the film a score of 11% based on 180 reviews.

Shyamalan announced in January 2014 that he would be working again with Bruce Willis on a film titled Labor of Love.[27] By November of that year, Universal had picked up rights to a low-budget movie called The Visit that Shyamalan had shot in secret. The movie went on to become a relative critical and financial success.[28] Universal released the movie on September 11, 2015.[28] In 2016 TNT first announced that Shyamalan would be responsible for a reboot series for Tales from the Crypt. As of June 2017 the series has been cancelled due to a number of legal reasons. In 2017, Shyamalan released the movie Split, which garnered positive reviews and was a huge financial success.

Controversy[edit]

Sci-Fi Channel hoax[edit]

In 2004, Shyamalan was involved in a media hoax with Sci-Fi Channel, which was eventually uncovered by the press. Sci-Fi claimed in its "documentary" special The Buried Secret of M. Night Shyamalan, shot on the set of The Village, that as a child, Shyamalan had been dead for nearly a half-hour while drowned in a frozen pond in an accident, and that upon being rescued he had experiences of communicating with spirits, fueling an obsession with the supernatural.

In truth, Shyamalan developed the hoax with Sci-Fi, going so far as having Sci-Fi staffers sign non-disclosure agreements with a $5 million fine attached and requiring Shyamalan's office to formally approve each step. Neither the childhood accident nor a supposed rift with the filmmakers ever occurred. The hoax included a nonexistent Sci-Fi publicist, "David Westover", whose name appeared on press releases regarding the special. Sci-Fi also fed false news stories to the Associated Press,[29] Zap2It,[30] and the New York Post,[31][32][33] among others.

After an AP reporter confronted Sci-Fi Channel president Bonnie Hammer at a press conference, Hammer admitted the hoax, saying it was part of a guerrilla marketing campaign to generate pre-release publicity for The Village. This prompted Sci-Fi's parent company, NBC Universal, to state that the undertaking was "not consistent with our policy at NBC. We would never intend to offend the public or the press and we value our relationship with both."[34]

Plagiarism accusations[edit]

Robert McIlhinney, a Pennsylvania screenwriter, sued Shyamalan in 2003, alleging similarities between Signs and his unpublished script Lord of the Barrens: The Jersey Devil.[35][36]

In 2004, Margaret Peterson Haddix claimed that The Village has numerous similarities to her young adult novel Running Out of Time, prompting discussions with publisher Simon & Schuster about filing a lawsuit.[35][36][37]

In response to both allegations, Disney and Shyamalan's production company Blinding Edge issued statements calling the claims "meritless".[37]

Orson Scott Card has claimed that many elements of The Sixth Sense were plagiarized from his novel Lost Boys, although he has said that enough had been changed that there was no point in suing.[38]

Personal life[edit]

Shyamalan married Bhavna Vaswani, a fellow student whom he met at New York University.[39] The couple has three daughters.[40] His production company, Blinding Edge Pictures,[41] is located in Berwyn, Pennsylvania.[42] Blinding Edge has produced The Happening, Lady in the Water, The Village, Signs, Unbreakable, The Last Airbender, After Earth and The Visit. It is run by Shyamalan and Ashwin Rajan.[43]

Shyamalan is a season ticket holder of the Philadelphia 76ers.[44]

Filmography[edit]

Film[edit]

Year Title Director Producer Writer Actor Role Notes
1992 Praying with Anger Yes Yes Yes Yes Dev Raman
1998 Wide Awake Yes No Yes No
1999 She's All That No No Yes No Uncredited rewrite
The Sixth Sense Yes No Yes Yes Dr. Hill
Stuart Little No No Yes No
2000 Unbreakable Yes Yes Yes Yes Stadium Drug Dealer
2002 Signs Yes Yes Yes Yes Ray Reddy
2004 The Village Yes Yes Yes Yes Jay - Guard at Desk Also executive soundtrack producer
2006 Lady in the Water Yes Yes Yes Yes Vick Ran
2008 The Happening Yes Yes Yes Yes Joey (voice)
2010 The Last Airbender Yes Yes Yes Yes Firebender at Earth Prison Camp Uncredited actor
Devil No Yes Yes No
2013 After Earth Yes Yes Yes No
2015 The Visit Yes Yes Yes No
2016 Split Yes Yes Yes Yes Jay
2019 Glass Yes Yes Yes Yes Jay

Television[edit]

Year Title Director Producer Actor Role Notes
2007 Entourage No No Yes M. Night Shyamalan
2015–2016 Wayward Pines Yes Yes No Executive producer

Critical analysis[edit]

After the release of The Village, Slate's Michael Agger noted that Shyamalan was following "an uncomfortable pattern" of "making fragile, sealed-off movies that fell apart when exposed to outside logic."[45] Shyamalan has also won the Golden Raspberry Awards on numerous occasions for Worst Director, Worst Screenplay and Worst Film in 2006 and 2010, whilst being nominated in 2008 for The Happening and 2013 for After Earth. In 2015, however, he was also nominated for The Razzie Redeemer Award.

In 2008, Shyamalan said it was a common misperception "that all my movies have twist endings, or that they're all scary. All my movies are spiritual and all have an emotional perspective."[46]

Critical reception[edit]

Year Film Rotten Tomatoes Metacritic
1992 Praying with Anger N/A N/A
1998 Wide Awake 40%[47] N/A
1999 The Sixth Sense 85%[48] 64/100[49]
2000 Unbreakable 69%[50] 62/100[51]
2002 Signs 74%[52] 59/100[53]
2004 The Village 43%[54] 44/100[55]
2006 Lady in the Water 25%[56] 36/100[57]
2008 The Happening 18%[58] 34/100[59]
2010 The Last Airbender 6%[60] 20/100[61]
2013 After Earth 11%[62] 33/100[63]
2015 The Visit 65%[64] 55/100[65]
2016 Split 76%[66] 62/100[67]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Books[edit]

While working on his film The Happening, Shyamalan developed an interest in improving the delivery of education in American Schools. He hired doctoral student James Richardson to do most of the background research and as a result published I Got Schooled The Unlikely Story of How a Moonlighting Movie Maker Learned the Five Keys to Closing America's Education Gap. [68]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Maṉōj Nelliyāṭṭu Śyāmaḷaṉ; Malayalam: മനോജ് നെല്ലിയാട്ട് ശ്യാമളന്‍; Tamil: மனோஜ் நெல்லியட்டு ஷியாமளன்

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Huber, Robert; Wallace, Benjamin. The Philadelphia Reader. Temple University Press. p. 197. Then [Shyamalan] changed his name. The idea came when he was applying for American citizenship at age 18.
  2. ^ "NLS: Say How, Q-T". Library of Congress. Retrieved April 20, 2017.
  3. ^ "Monitor". Entertainment Weekly (1219). Time Inc. August 10, 2012. p. 27.
  4. ^ "Padma Shri Awardees". india.gov.in. National Informatics Centre, Government of India. Archived from the original on September 30, 2009. Retrieved November 1, 2017.
  5. ^ "The need for a Dev Patel in the Life of Pi". Rediff. February 20, 2009. Archived from the original on March 4, 2016.
  6. ^ Bamberger, Michael. The Man Who Heard Voices: Or, How M. Night Shyamalan Risked His Career on a Fairy Tale.(Gotham Books, New York, 2006), p. 150.
  7. ^ "Dr. Nelliate Shyamalan, MD - Wynnewood, PA - Internal Medicine - Healthgrades.com".
  8. ^ "Biography - M. Night Shyamalan Online". www.mnight.com. Retrieved October 22, 2017.
  9. ^ Shyamalan, M. Night (July 12, 2010). "10 Questions for M. Night Shyamalan" – via content.time.com.
  10. ^ Edelstein, David (July 16, 2006). "nymag.com". nymag.com. Retrieved July 23, 2012.
  11. ^ "Dean's Message". about.tisch.nyu.edu.
  12. ^ Edelstein, David (July 16, 2006). "M. Narcissus Shyamalan". New York Magazine. Retrieved April 27, 2010.
  13. ^ NNDB -Manoj Nelliyattu Shyamalan.
  14. ^ Bamberger, Ibid., p. 19.
  15. ^ Answers.com - Wide Awake.
  16. ^ Young Artists Award Archived September 7, 2013, at the Wayback Machine. - Past Nominations Listing.
  17. ^ The Numbers - Wide Awake Box Office Data.
  18. ^ Crossan, Jamie (June 11, 2013). "M Night Shyamalan reveals he ghost-wrote 'She's All That'". NME. Retrieved July 16, 2018.
  19. ^ Kibblesmith, Daniel (June 17, 2013). "Wait, did M. Night Shyamalan lie about writing "She's All That"?". Retrieved October 5, 2013.
  20. ^ Premiere.com - "Indiana Jones and the Curse of Development Hell", By Ann Donahue Archived June 18, 2007, at the Wayback Machine..
  21. ^ Science Fiction Weekly,[volume & issue needed]
  22. ^ Otto, Jeff (July 14, 2006). "Potter in the Water? Shyamalan interested in magical franchise". IGN.
  23. ^ Schwawrtz, Missy (May 3, 2006). "'Water' Bearer". Entertainment Weekly.
  24. ^ Fleming, Michael (July 21, 2008). "Night falls for Media Rights". Variety.
  25. ^ Fleming, Michael (October 28, 2008). "MRC, Shyamalan dance with 'Devil'". Variety. Retrieved January 3, 2009.
  26. ^ "Details on Shyamalan Story 'Devil'". Retrieved October 19, 2009.
  27. ^ "M. Night Shyamalan And Bruce Willis Will Reteam For Labor Of Love". January 29, 2014.
  28. ^ a b Fleming, Mike, JR. "Universal Slots 'The Visit', M. Night Shyamalan's Secret Thriller". Deadline. Retrieved November 14, 2014.
  29. ^ "Profile of M. Night Shyamalan goes sour: Sci-Fi Channel is still planning to air the documentary". Today. Associated Press. June 16, 2004. Archived from the original on April 1, 2015.
  30. ^ "Sci Fi schedules controversial Shyamalan doc". Zap2it.com. Knight Ridder / Tribune News Service. June 21, 2004. Retrieved April 1, 2015.
  31. ^ Edelstein, David (n.d.). "M. Narcissus Shyamalan". (Sidebar, "Backstory") New York. Archived from the original on July 19, 2006.
  32. ^ Starr, Michael (June 23, 2004). "Starr Report". New York Post. Archived from the original on April 1, 2015. Retrieved April 1, 2015.
  33. ^ Recchia, Philip (January 2, 2005). "Let's Be Honest! Who Were the Biggest Liars of 2004?". New York Post. Archived from the original on April 1, 2015. Retrieved April 1, 2015.
  34. ^ Collins, Dan (July 20, 2004). "Sci-Fi Channel Admits Hoax, 'Documentary' On Reclusive Filmmaker Is Bogus". CBS News. Associated Press. Archived from the original on January 10, 2011.
  35. ^ a b Grossberg, Josh (August 10, 2004). "Shyamalan's "Village" Villainy?". eonline.com.
  36. ^ a b "Is Shyamalan a copycat?". Rediff Entertainment Bureau. August 11, 2004.
  37. ^ a b Susman, Gary (August 10, 2004). "It Takes a Village". ew.com.
  38. ^ Card, Orson Scott (August 8, 2004), Infringement, Watts, Plum, Ringworld, and Even More Books, Hatrack River (hatrack.com)
  39. ^ Humphries, Stephen (July 28, 2004). "A Different Take". The Christian Science Monitor. Archived from the original on January 2, 2015.
  40. ^ Colman, David (May 31, 2012). "M. Night Shyamalan's Pennsylvania Estate". Architectural Digest. Archived from the original on June 2, 2016. Retrieved June 2, 2016.
  41. ^ "Legal". M. Night Shyamalan official site. Archived from the original on December 23, 2013. Retrieved April 1, 2015.
  42. ^ "Blinding Edge Pictures". YellowPages.com. Retrieved April 1, 2015.
  43. ^ "Syfy, Marti Noxon, M. Night Shyamalan and Universal Cable Productions Team for Proof Pilot" (Press release). Syfy. August 3, 2012. Archived from the original on July 23, 2013. Retrieved April 1, 2015.
  44. ^ "M. Night Shyamalan Is Attending Sixers Opener With Connor Barwin". Pricewaterhouse Coopers. October 26, 2016. Retrieved July 30, 2017.
  45. ^ "The case against M. Night Shyamalan". slate.com. July 30, 2004.
  46. ^ "The 5-minute Interview: M Night Shyamalan, Writer and director". The Independent. London. May 31, 2008. Retrieved May 12, 2010.
  47. ^ "Tomatometer Rating of ''Wide Awake''". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved July 23, 2012.
  48. ^ "Tomatometer Rating of ''The Sixth Sense''". Rottentomatoes.com. Retrieved July 23, 2012.
  49. ^ "Metascore of ''The Sixth Sense''". Metacritic. Retrieved July 23, 2012.
  50. ^ "Tomatometer Rating of ''Unbreakable''". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved July 23, 2012.
  51. ^ "Metascore of ''Unbreakable''". Metacritic. Retrieved July 23, 2012.
  52. ^ "Tomatometer Rating of ''Signs''". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved July 23, 2012.
  53. ^ "Metascore of ''Signs''". Metacritic. Retrieved July 23, 2012.
  54. ^ "Tomatometer Rating of ''The Village''". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved July 23, 2012.
  55. ^ "Metascore of ''The Village''". Metacritic. Retrieved July 23, 2012.
  56. ^ "Tomatometer Rating of ''Lady in the Water''". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved July 23, 2012.
  57. ^ "Metascore of ''Lady in the Water''". Metacritic. Retrieved July 23, 2012.
  58. ^ "Tomatometer Rating of ''The Happening''". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved July 23, 2012.
  59. ^ "Metascore of ''The Happening''". Metacritic. Retrieved July 23, 2012.
  60. ^ "Tomatometer Rating of ''The Last Airbender''". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved July 23, 2012.
  61. ^ "Metascore of ''The Last Airbender''". Metacritic. Retrieved July 23, 2012.
  62. ^ "Tomatometer Rating of ''After Earth''". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved July 23, 2012.
  63. ^ "Metascore of ''After Earth''". Metacritic. Retrieved July 23, 2012.
  64. ^ "The Visit". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved September 10, 2015.
  65. ^ "The Visit reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved September 10, 2015.
  66. ^ "Split (2016)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved January 22, 2017.
  67. ^ "Split reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved January 22, 2017.
  68. ^ I Got Schooled The Unlikely Story of How a Moonlighting Movie Maker Learned the Five Keys to Closing America's Education Gap, Simon and Shuster, 2013, ISBN 978-1-4767-1645-9

External links[edit]