I can still recall when M. Night Shyamalan’s career exploded with the phenomenon of The Sixth Sense back in 1999.
It was quite a watershed year for movies that summer, with The Blair Witch Project, The Matrix, and The Sixth Sense, and overnight Shyamalan became of the most important filmmakers in Hollywood.
The Sixth Sense was one of those amazing times when a movie seemingly arrives out of nowhere and becomes a phenomenon. The audience goodwill was also so strong that nobody spoiled the ending for anyone.
Yet after making such an acclaimed breakthrough, Shyamalan followed up with Unbreakable, which for many moviegoers was a pretty big let down, and the start of a long string of unsatisfying follow ups.
In spite of this, there are indeed loyal fans of it to this day who are still hoping for a sequel. (It was actually supposed to be a trilogy.) Now Samuel L Jackson has spoken to the Huffington Post
to promote Django Unchained, and he clearly didn’t look back on his experiences with Shyamalan fondly.
As to why there was never a follow up to Unbreakable, Jackson said, “You’ll have to ask the brilliant director who wrote it and didn’t do the rest of them. He hasn’t made a really good movie since then.”
Jackson saw definite similarities between Shyamalan and Quentin Tarantino, who both had to follow up a huge hit, and weren’t happy when the public knocked them down some notches. “[Quentin] didn’t make Pulp Fiction 2, he made Jackie Brown – which is a wonderful fucking movie. But it wasn’t Pulp Fiction 2. Unbreakable also didn’t have the number of ‘I see dead people.’ That was a problem for him…for his ego and the studio, also.”
Both Shyamalan and Tarantino are indeed known for their considerable egos, and while Tarantino eventually was able to come back after some time in exile, Shyamalan has a lot riding on his next movie, After Earth, which doesn’t even have his name in the trailers.
Funny enough, Tarantino has said that Unbreakable was his favorite comic book film, and Jackson told writer Mike Ryan that if there was a sequel to Unbreakable, “Everybody would be waiting for it, yeah. It would trend through the roof now on Twitter.”
Maybe if Shyamalan has his big comeback with After Earth he can one day go back to finishing the Unbreakable story. (Maybe he could also do it as a graphic novel series as well, which would be very fitting considering the subject matter).