Just a few years ago, M. Night Shyamalan’s days as a Hollywood hit-maker appeared to be finished. But like Bruce Willis’ superhuman character in “Unbreakable,” the director has shown surprising stamina at the box office.
Shyamalan’s latest movie, “Glass,” a crossover of his successful 2000 film “Unbreakable” and the 2017 hit “Split,” is expected to top the box office charts during Martin Luther King Jr. weekend with at least $55 million in ticket sales from its first four days in the U.S. and Canada, according to people who have reviewed pre-release audience surveys. That would be a strong result for “Glass,” a quasi-superhero picture that cost about $20 million to produce.
“Glass” should easily unseat STX Films’ Kevin Hart-Bryan Cranston comedy, “The Upside,” which took the top spot last weekend with a surprisingly strong debut of $20 million.
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Superpowered box office
In a way, “Glass” represents a full-circle comeback for Shyamalan, who self-financed the film and produced it with Blumhouse Productions.
The highly anticipated movie is the conclusion of the unlikeliest of trilogies. It serves as a sequel to “Unbreakable — which starred Willis as a superpowered everyman and Samuel L. Jackson as the conniving villain Mr. Glass — and “Split,” which introduced James McAvoy as an evildoer with distinct multiple personalities. Willis, Jackson and McAvoy all reprise their roles.
The film also involves an unusual cooperation between two rival studios. Burbank-based Walt Disney Co. released “Unbreakable” through its Touchstone label, while Comcast Corp.-owned Universal Pictures distributed “Split,” which surprised audiences when Willis’ character showed up in a post-credits scene. Universal is releasing “Glass” in the U.S. and Canada, while Disney is handling international distribution, and the companies will split box office receipts.
The timing for “Glass” is fortuitous. “Unbreakable” was released long before Disney’s Marvel Studios juggernaut turned the concept of shared “cinematic universes” into a given for the film industry, and audiences’ interest in overlapping superhero stories has only surged since then.
If “Glass” does as well as expected, it would be the latest hit in a commercial resurgence for Shyamalan, whose career was nearly ended by a series of commercial and critical bombs.
Though he became known for his mind-bending twist endings through hits such as “The Sixth Sense,” he ran into trouble with flops including his passion project “Lady in the Water” and the big-budget disappointment “After Earth.” However, he bounced back by returning to his roots with low-budget horror-thrillers such as 2015’s “The Visit” ($98 million in global box office) and “Split” ($278 million).
A $55-million opening for “Glass” would exceed the $40-million domestic debut of “Split,” which cost $9 million to make. Some analysts have predicted that “Glass” could open with as much as $74 million over the four-day holiday weekend because of the lack of competition at the multiplex, but poor reviews have tempered expectations. Only 38% of reviews compiled by Rotten Tomatoes have been positive.
Meanwhile, last weekend’s victor “The Upside” will battle Warner Bros.’ “Aquaman” for second place. “The Upside” exceeded expectations despite the controversy surrounding Hart’s past homophobic tweets, which led him to step down from hosting this year’s Oscars. Based on the 2011 French film “The Intouchables,” “The Upside” was rescued from the rubble of the Weinstein Co., which declared bankruptcy last year after Harvey Weinstein was accused of sexual assault.
“Aquaman,” starring Jason Momoa and directed by James Wan, has grossed more than $1 billion worldwide.