Split, M. Night Shyamalan‘s hit 2016 thriller, had a whopper of a twist at the end. And while we normally try to avoid giving away twists on this here site, I think at this point everyone knows the deal – even if you didn’t see Split. After all, Split was followed by Glass, a movie that was a direct continuation of Split‘s big twist ending. But back before Split arrived, no one had any idea what was coming – not even the studio execs, who were completely caught off guard by the twist when Shyamalan showed them the movie for the very first time.
If you’re still reading at this point, you’re not worried about spoilers. So here’s the deal: Split ends with the reveal that the film is set in the same universe as Unbreakable, M. Night Shyamalan’s great, broody 2000 take on superheroes. Bruce Willis is shown as his Unbreakable character David Dunn, and characters near him are heard talking about events from that film. It was something no one really saw coming, especially since Split is such a different movie than Unbreakable.
Most folks managed to keep Split‘s twist a secret at first, and that includes Shyamalan himself. While appearing on the ReelBlend podcast (via IndieWire), the director revealed that he didn’t even tell the execs at Universal about the twist before they screened the movie. This, understandably, could’ve caused some issues. Because while Split was set up at Universal, Unbreakable – and its characters – are owned by Disney (the film was distributed by Disney’s Buena Vista Pictures Distribution brand).
“I go to the Universal Studios chairman, (the) marketing team, everyone’s in the theater. We pull down the lights and we play them Split,” Shyamalan said. “They don’t know the ending that they’re watching. They didn’t even know I shot it, because I didn’t even send them the dallies of that (scene). The lights go down. They watch the whole movie of Split. Then this scene comes on, and they’re completely flummoxed. They look at me, and they’re like, ‘What are you saying? That’s a Disney movie!’ [Laughs] And I go, ‘It’s all good. We have the permission to do it!’ Can you imagine? You are the chairman of the studio, and the guy shows you that it’s a sequel to a movie from another studio?”
Oh, M. Night Shyamalan, you scamp.
“Let’s Just Go For It”
Elsewhere in the podcast appearance, Shyamalan elaborates on the lengths he went to keep the big Unbreakable connection a secret. In fact, it originally wasn’t even supposed to be in the film. “When I wrote that movie, I didn’t put the end scene on. I handed it to the studio without that end scene on. We shot it without that end scene on. We previewed it without that end scene on,” Shyamalan says. “And then…I said, ‘Let’s just go for it.’ Lemme call Bruce and say, ‘Hey dude, would you just come to Philly for, like, three hours and shoot this thing for me?’ And he was like, ‘Why, what?’ And I was like, ‘Well, I did this movie, and it’s kind of in the Unbreakable world. I don’t know if we’ll ever shoot a sequel. Do you just want to just come for three hours, bro?’ And he was like, ‘Yeah, yeah. I’ll come.’”
In the end, Shyamalan and Willis did get to make their Unbreakable sequel, sort of, with Glass. I’m of the humble opinion that they probably shouldn’t have done that, because I don’t care for Glass at all. Still, it’s fun to learn Shyamalan’s approach here, and how he went about making all of this happen.
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