Even if M Night Shyamalan were to stop making films tomorrow, his place in Hollywood would be secure. For among the films he has made, The Sixth Sense, Unbreakable, Signs and The Village have grossed an awesome $1.8 billion in movie theaters alone.
Shyamalan, who was born in Mahe, India, and has spent most of his 36 years in Philadelphia, spurned the medical career that made his parents rich and respected and went to study cinema at New York University. Beholden to the suspense genre, the director is one of a dozen Hollywood
filmmakers who have their names above the title. He is also one of the richest writers and filmmakers of his generation.
By the time he was 17, he had made 45 home movies. He has included a scene from one of these childhood films on each DVD release of his films.
|Photo: Brad Barket /|
Shyamalan is respected in Hollywood for his conservative fiscal approach -- he gets stars like Bruce Willis to act for less than half of what they usually get -- and passion for telling a story with little computer graphics or special effects. With a far smaller budget than those used by most filmmakers, he creates tales that draw millions worldside to movie theatres.
He recently announced he would own part of the copyright of his films, including The Happening, a co-production between Fox and India's UTV. 'I thought about authors like Agatha Christie,' he told trade publication Variety, 'who passed copyrights of her books down to her grandchildren, and I found it inspiring that I might be able to spend the rest of my career owning my estate to my children's children.'
There aren't that many in the Indian-American community who can claim ignorance of Shyamalan's work. If The Sixth Sense still occupies space on a lot of DVD shelves around the world, it is because of the magic this man brings to the craft of filmmaking.
His success -- specifically his unprecedented work in Hollywood -- has inspired many, and continues to do so. In a few months, Shyamalan will shoot his new film -- a thriller starring Zooey Deschanel and Mark Wahlberg. He's back to doing what he knows best.