For the most part, M. Night Shyamalan has sought to create original stories from the ground up, for better or worse. Having been the credited writer on all of his directorial efforts there hasn’t really been anyone to rein him in, and that’s sometimes resulted in some sloppy and self-indulgent screenplays. But when he’s good, he’s very good.
After all, penning The Sixth Sense, Unbreakable, Signs, Split and recent box office topper Old takes a great deal of skill and even more imagination, and it might be more than a coincidence that his disastrous forays into big budget blockbuster territory saw him adapting an existing property with The Last Airbender and fleshing out a story by Will Smith that eventually became After Earth.
Old was admittedly inspired by acclaimed graphic novel Sandcastle, but Shyamalan put his own signature spin on the source material, delivering yet another twisty thriller that defied convention, played with structure and ultimately generated a mixed response. Having already made close to $50 million at the box office on an $18 million budget, it’s already in the red, and the filmmaker admitted he’s got an idea for a sequel that he doesn’t think he’ll ever get around to.
“You know me, I’m the opposite of franchise. The excitement is to do something original. However, I did think of another idea. I said to the guy at my work, ‘I just thought of another thing’ [but] we’re never going to do that. Let’s just move on to the other movies.”
The only time Shyamalan revisited his own work came with Glass, and even that was the payoff to a surprise Bruce Willis cameo as Unbreakable‘s David Dunn right at the end of Split. His work doesn’t tend to come burdened with franchise potential, and it took almost 20 years for his one and only sequel to arrive, so Old is poised to remain the latest of his one-and-done efforts as he sets his sights on whatever his next project ends up being.