Somebody’s feeling a little snippy

Looks like all of the recent criticism of his work has gotten to the notoriously sensitive M. Night Shyamalan. At the Mexico City press conference promoting The Last Airbender, Shyamalan went on the defensive after a questioner pointedly noted that “the audience has lost its faith in [his] work” and asked whether Airbender was his attempt to reinvigorate his career.

Shyamalan’s response? “If I thought like you I’d kill myself… Your impression of my career is not my impression of my career. It’s something you read on Google.”

He goes on to make the dubious claims that Unbreakable was a better film than The Sixth Sense and that his favorite film was The Village. (Editorial note: The Village?! Really, Night? Really?)

Watch the whole clip below:

Perhaps worst of all for Shyamalan is the fact that this isn’t the worst story that’s come out about him this week. IFC reports that moviegoers have been “audibly recoiling” at the sight of the filmmaker’s name during the trailers for the movie Devil, which is due out this fall. (Devil is directed by Drew and John Erick Dowdle, but the plot comes “from the mind” of Shyamalan.)

53 thoughts on “Somebody’s feeling a little snippy

  1. Yep, happened at a screening of INCEPTION here in LA. After his name popped up, everyone groaned and then laughed because of the unanimous response.

  2. What happened to M Night ? He jumped the proverbial shark. At least Michael Bay has remained consistent in the dreck he makes. Night comes across as arrogant and somewhat a jerk. But he makes millions despite all the critical drubbing his movies get. I doubt anyone will want to rewatch any of his films in the years to come.

  3. I actually really liked ‘The Village’ and ‘Unbreakable’ wasn’t bad either but after the ‘Last Racebender’ Shyamalan really needs to get a grip and if needs be,just kill his career and not himself!

  4. Considering the pointed question, the response was not overly defensive or sensitive.

  5. I loved the Village too. It was really good. I enjoyed the movie and I still like the concept !

    So Lakshmi, the director has not really gone nuts :D

  6. I more or less agree with what he said; I thought both Unbreakable and The Village were pretty good (compared to about 95% of the Hollywood movies that came out in those years). Though apart from the three (including the Sixth Sense, that is) his other movies were pretty bad (which gives him not a bad e.r.a/batting average/pick your metaphor in my opinion, again compared to other directors who started at the same time he did). On the other hand his actual money earned per-film would put him among the elite directors, I would think. So yes he is somewhat of a disappointment if you thought he was going to be the next Hitchcock, but he is still one of the top Hollywood directors who began their careers in the late 90s. So lets not get carried away (though I can see how it might be tempting to make fin of him given his own opinion of himself)

  7. I worked on airbender.. hated the movie..

    I I think there is something very intriguing about this whole Shyamalan hatred… something personal.. there are so many terrible directors around in Hollywood.. but what is it about Night that people just love to hate ? what does he need to do to turn the public opinion around… ??

  8. He can start by making his first good movie after The Sixth Sense.

  9. I actually agree with him…I did think Unbreakable was way better than The Sixth Sense. I mean, some people figured out fairly early on what the twist was in The Sixth Sense. But the way Night simply turns the whole superhero concept around in Unbreakable is brilliant.

    The Village could’ve been a much better movies; too bad the treatment was so clunky

  10. If I thought like you I’d kill myself…

    He should go on a reality show. The surprise ending? That he has humility and self-awareness. Even a little bit would do.

  11. Oh, I guess it’s been a couple of weeks, time to pick on Shyamalan again! And of course, the desis turn on their own as well – perfect!

    The hatred against Shyamalan really is quite spectacular. Somehow he still keeps getting greenlighted and making movies and making money for the studios (who are businesses after all and wouldn’t keep greenlighting a guy if they didn’t think he was worth it).

    As has been said before, the desi treachery is typical and a little bit shameful. I think what desis don’t grasp is that in a country where one is the minority one needs to support their own in order to get ahead.

    Oh well, what do I know?

    Keep it real, aight

  12. Manoj’s scripts lack heft and overpowering drama. That is not a problem as long as there are intensely dramatic moments strung right through – which is after all what Hitchcock is about – little 10-15 g twists in an otherwise banal plot line. Manoj probably thought it was easy doing that. Obviously not. I watch Hollywood for spectacle, scale, FX, crime, action and suspense. I watch Indian movies for the way they question and interpret how we experience the world around us. Manoj does neither. “Unbreakable” is about superheroes? No thanks I will take Spiderman or the Fantastic Four.

  13. uhh, Unbreakable is a good movie.I don’t know where the incredulity comes from. It may not be as mainstream as Sixth Sense. But there are quite a few people who like Unbreakable.

    Starting with Lady in the Water, Shymalan just lost his marbles. Lady inthe Water is one of the silliest movies from a big director that I have ever seen. The Happening really amounted to nothing.

  14. And I did like the Village. The problem was the marketing and the way Shymalan got the moviegoers looking for the “twist” concept. The ending was pretty blatantly telegraphed early enough that one could enjoy the pyschological aspect of the narrative. Once the monsters were revealed to be fake, it was even more obvious that this was some retreat like area that they went to. I thought it was the deepest of his work. You got a bunch of families thinking they could escape all the harm by being overprotective (reminds me of some of our Indian parents) and they still can’t exscape murder and lies.

  15. I did think Unbreakable was way better than The Sixth Sense.

    Same here. I got bored with the whole “kid as a supernatural magnet” plot device after Poltergeist. It keeps getting recycled somehow, though.

    The Village was ASS.

    As has been said before, the desi treachery is typical and a little bit shameful.

    The academy award for maximum melodrama goes to papu!

  16. I have said this before, and I’ll say it again. I think Night is our generations’ Hitchcock. Hitchcock was known to occasionally make a film that didn’t work (Rope, The Trouble with Harry), and he made over 50 movies, but he’s only really known by the public for about ten great films. That’s how it will be with Night. And anyway, the creative process is always going to involve some spectacular failures.

  17. Another thing Shyamalan needs to improve is the sleep inducing pacing of his movies. When the movie is good, you can tolerate that pacing. But when it is something like Lady in the Water, you want to throw a brick at your big screen tv.

  18. Except for Lady in the water and Wide awake every movie in this list has made money. He must be doing something right.

    That chart only tells us the gross amount. We don’t know how much of a profit those films made once you factor in production costs, publicity costs, etc. Conventional wisdom says you need to make app. 3 times the amount of the production costs in order to eke out a profit.

    It’s true that there’s a lot of crap made in Hollywood these days. But there is a difference. We don’t know who most of the directors are. They haven’t made a name for themselves that the public would recognize. How many people recognize the names Peter Hyams, Andy Tennant, Brian Robbins, etc? If you do, I hope you realise you’re among the (privileged?) few. But Shyamalan got a jump start with tremendous initial publicity and a newsmagazine (which one?) declaring him The Next Spielberg. He hasn’t been able to capitalize on it. It’s too bad, because I do think he’s a far more thoughtful director than most of the Hollywood hacks. But the material he works with his ludicrous, and he’s earnest to a fault.

    But I do think “Unbreakable” was better than “The Sixth Sense”… almost. I wish he had found another way to end the film. Those title cards nearly cancelled out everything that came before.

  19. “Hitchcock was known to occasionally make a film that didn’t work (Rope, The Trouble with Harry)”

    I actually really like Rope.The Trouble With Harry is an acquired taste – not one of my favourites but liked it a little better on second viewing. The Birds, for me, is actually one of Hitchcock’s weakest movies.

  20. Hitchcock was known to occasionally make a film that didn’t work (Rope, The Trouble with Harry), and he made over 50 movies, but he’s only really known by the public for about ten great films.

    Which isn’t the same thing as saying Hitchcock only made ten great films. I’d say Hitchcock made ten films that aren’t great.

  21. Manoj is the next Spielberg? Who cares? Spielberg is a big yawn, unless it is Schindler’s List (v.v.v.unlike him). The rest of his portfolio is forgettable. Because every now and then someone else steps in and makes a grander version of his spectacles. I thought Raiders was the best adventure caper ever, until I saw Mummy – yeah – that’s how “good” Spielberg is. And of course there’s that little matter of ripping off Satyajit Ray’s script to make ET. If you want spectacle, the real boss of the hood is James Cameron. No one comes close. When Cameron makes a movie, the likes of Spielberg shut up and watch.

  22. You know, I don’t think directors or actors should be expected to churn out hit after hit after hit– that’s quite a bit of unreasonable pressure. However, they shouldn’t put out crap and tout it as gold, expecting us not to notice. I’d rather they stay silent until they have something genuinely important to say.

  23. CC These results speak for themselves. When you compare these to Martin Scorsese for the same period, you will only fine one film that had a higher gross than the production budget.

    Sixth sense Production Budget: $40 million vs Domestic Total Gross: $293,506,292 Signs Production Budget: $72 million vs Domestic Total Gross: $227,966,634 The Village Production Budget: $60 million vs Domestic Total Gross: $114,197,520 The Happening Production Budget: $48 million vs Domestic Total Gross: $64,506,874 Unbreakable Production Budget: $75 million vs Domestic Total Gross: $95,011,339 So far The Last Airbender Production Budget: $150 million vs Domestic Total as of Jul. 21, 2010: $118,191,718

  24. Thanks ChiTown…

    I’m fine with M. Knight’s response. I think it must be very difficult to have put so much effort into a tough and competitive job, done financially well, with some recent critical messes, all the sweat and tears that go into that, and then have a journalist sum his effort and work with such a narrow focus.

    Good for M. Knight for responding so forcefully – nothing wrong with his response! I don’t see hubris, but disgust in having a large part of his life described so narrowly.

  25. PS,

    Looks like Manoj is headed for the Peter Principle Plateau. As his budgets head North, his box-office heads down!

  26. I think Night is our generations’ Hitchcock.

    Which Hitchcock are you speaking of? Surely it can’t be old Alfred? He could be our generation’s Abbas-Mastan, though.

  27. chitowndesi,

    Thanks for that, but that is also just domestic. When you add in international too the numbers go up quite substantially, as well as when you add in DVD sales etc. For example, for The Happening the total gross (domestic and international) was USD 163MM and DVD sales were another USD 20MM.

    This is totally random and unconnected but I don’t know why but the title of the blog post reminded me of that Russell Peters bit where he talks about his dad saying “Somebody gonna get hurt real bad…!” Whoops I probably shouldn’t have brought up another desi – get ready for the desi on desi onslaught! Let’s hear why Russell Peters is “snippy”, “racist” (surely not!) etc etc… But let’s hear it from the desis though because that’s how they roll!

    Kick it old skool, homies

  28. papu, the Desis are still waiting for the memo from HQ as to how they should respond. Naturally, there is some incoherence in the reactions till then, which is making Desis look bad as they behave like individuals with independent opinions, instead of a robotic clan with tribal loyalties. We will restore service as soon as the message from the Borg is processed and we organize as a single hive-mind.

  29. These results speak for themselves. When you compare these to Martin Scorsese for the same period, you will only fine one film that had a higher gross than the production budget.

    I’ll repeat what I said earlier: “Conventional wisdom says you need to make app. 3 times the amount of the production costs in order to eke out a profit.” That includes not only production, but also marketing, pre-production spending, theater distribution and revenue splitting, etc. Not all of this is covered in the production figure.

    On the other side of the coin, you also have to consider international sales and future DVD-Video on Demand sales. But with all those revenue streams, eventually most movies manage to make a profit, although it may take several years. So, yes. Shymalan has made movies that have made a profit – some very handily – but fewer than your “results” claim and sometimes less dramatically than it may appear.

    Movie-making is a loss leader, at least in the short term.

  30. cc you obviously know your stuff…with King Kong the breakeven point was FOUR TIMES prod budget because of marketing overages…it never did break even..its one of the reasons Jackson is having a hard time getting Hobbit going, MGM’s stupidity not withstanding.

    Night has lost serious money on his last five films…he is circling the toilet real fast, now someone just needs to flush

  31. <11 · Pooja Pillai on July 23, 2010 3:31 AM · Direct link I actually agree with him…I did think Unbreakable was way better than The Sixth Sense. I mean, some people figured out fairly early on what the twist was in The Sixth Sense. But the way Night simply turns the whole superhero concept around in Unbreakable is brilliant. The Village could’ve been a much better movies; too bad the treatment was so clunky

    Pooja,

    Even I enjoyed Unbreakable more than the Sixth Sense. I think that most of these Desis weren’t so much into comic books back then, so they can’t really enjoy the double-meanings and symbolisms of this movie.

    Regarding Mr. Shyamalan’s “snippy” response: I don’t think that it was snippy at all given the pointedness of the question.

    That being said, I didn’t like any of his films after Unbreakable. They were…ummmm…like a constrained Bollywood film without songs, dance, and with a more focused story line.

  32. That being said, I didn’t like any of his films after Unbreakable

    I liked Signs. Ending was weak, but aside from that it was a very strong movie. Even the Village was ok. Not up to par with the rest of his films, but easily better than most of the schlock out there. Then I saw Lady in the Water and thought it was just petty masturbatory crap. Didn’t bother to see the Happening, I’ll probably end up seeing The Last Airbender just because I’m a sucker for good fight choreography, but I doubt I’ll enjoy it.

  33. I’d like to confirm the grown/laugh/confusion when his name popped up during the previews of Inception.

    I’d also like to confirm that I was part of that groaning while my other friend was visibly angry at seeing his name on the screen.

  34. I thought Raiders was the best adventure caper ever, until I saw Mummy – yeah – that’s how “good” Spielberg is.

    That is a pretty silly statement. Raiders was made in early 80s. Mummy was late 90s. Mummy had the advatnage of technology improvements. Raiders was pretty much the big movie when it came out while Mummy was just another summer movie.

    I dont get the Shyamalan and hitchcock comparisons. Hitchcock pretty much told you who the bad guys were early on and the suspense was how things would progress once you know that fact. There were very little twists in his movies. Pls the pacing in Hitchcock movies was a lot better.

  35. I dont get the Shyamalan and hitchcock comparisons

    It’s not the plotting. It’s the tone and cinematography.

  36. So all you conspiracy theorists proudly supporting desi art — I take it you have every Gurinder Chadha masterpiece in blu-ray? Director’s cut even?

  37. Pravin,

    Spielberg’s FX and plot add nothing to each other, that’s why they are easily excelled by the latest FX movie. But Cameron? He’s something else. His T1 too is way behind technically than T4, but grips you by the throat nevertheless even today. That’s the mark of outstanding spectacle/FX movies. Watch TRON, even with its dated FX it is so good! Or Disney’s James Mason starrer 20K Leagues… or Wyler’s Benhur, where even though you know the naval battle is shot tackily, is gripping, and as dramatic as the chariot race.

  38. Slightly ot… but did anyone catch the M Night reference on “Family Guy”? The episode where Peter opens a restaurant and hires M Knight to do his commercial? Disgusting! The commercial couldn’t be aired b/c “M Knight had something to do with 9/11″. WTF?!?! First off, I didn’t understand what the joke was supposed to be, but I guess the writers have determined brown people are terrorists. It basically implies all brown people by default are enemies. Forget arab or muslim (which would also be a stupid idea) – this means brown,as M Knight was born in India and not muslim. People are so stupid! This passed all the writers and reviewers of the show – no one questioned it. It’s as if it’s true and it will be taken to be true, by the average viewer.

    Anyways, not a big fan of his movies (not the worst movies, and some are entertaining, typical hollywod fare), but I can sense the racist diatribe associated with alot of the bad reviews… “go back to India” etc.. Racism is such a prevalent part of our culture that we can’t say anything good or bad about anyone without it relating to their race. I really have to wonder if there would be as much hate if it wasn’t for his race.

    I would hate being famous and brown. Imagine all the amplified shit you have to listen to. Ugh!

  39. Best comment in a long time at Sepia has got to be @Rahul (#32). Brilliant. Papu – it’s ridiculous to support someone just because of similar ethinicity rather than on talent/skill. Bloody guy doesn’t even go by his name Manoj. What kind of nut calls himself Night? Dude, you are no where near cool enough to pull that off.

  40. The episode where Peter opens a restaurant and hires M Knight to do his commercial? Disgusting! The commercial couldn’t be aired b/c “M Knight had something to do with 9/11″.

    You realize the Family Guy writers are just manatees who pull balls with words on them out of a pen and deposit them into a tube right?

  41. Obviously I realize the show is not brilliant. What I don’t get is how the joke gets past the million people who work there? What is the joke? I don’t get it. No one questions it? Not one post on all of the internet questioning it? Beacuse Family Guys is run by manatees it’s not worthy of evaluation? I think it is – even humour is taken to be true (that’s why it’s supposed to be funny). And this is a popular show watched by millions. It’s dangerous!

    The show is called “Meals on Wheels”.

  42. I agree, Rahul’s comment is funny. Maybe he should be a screenwriter!

    I also agree that you should support someone based on talent and skill, but for desis to keep putting the boot in on top of everyone else is not required. This blog post is just a way of getting at Shyamalan – nothing to do with his films.

    By the way, he is called M night because that’s what they called him growing up, because the americans couldn’t or wouldn’t pronounce his name. You ever had to deal with that, homeboy? When you grow up as a minority in another country, there is alot you have to put up with. Even when you work as a minority in another country, there is alot you have to deal with.

    But you know, you keep rolling the way you feel is right, man, that’s up to you. Be an individual, it’s the American way, homies!

    Peace to all my true desi homeboys/ girls, you know who you are…!

  43. I was part of that groaning while my other friend was visibly angry at seeing his name on the screen.

    angry ? some psychoanalysis is called for – regardless of how good/bad/indifferent/profit-making/loss-making his movies are.

  44. Actually I’ve known several people who became really irate about the religious overtones in “Signs.” I wanted to smack them and tell them to grow the hell up but that works even less well in real life than it does on these here comment threads.

  45. My problem with Signs and the Village (I barely remember Lady in the Water) was that Shyamalan hit you over the head with foreshadowing. After 10 close-ups on one object it’s like “ok, we get it already, it’s going to be important!” I thought the Sixth Sense was more subtle and easier to go back to scenes and say “oh, i see it now”.

    And the Village ripped off a children’s book called “Running out of Time”. He claimed it was a coincidence but there are so many similarities that it seems hard to believe.

  46. Oh! his defensive tone and repetition of “how fascinated” he is with the journalist’s comment tells me he is living in denial. But how long can one get by with that approach.