Shyamalan calls his "Happening" a fun B movie

Wed Jun 11, 2008 3:24pm EDT
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By Michelle Nichols

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Director M. Night Shyamalan is best known for the Oscar-nominated global hit "The Sixth Sense," but fans should be under no illusions about his latest thriller, "The Happening."

"I wanted it to be a fantastic, fun B-movie," Shyamalan told Reuters in a recent interview about the eighth film he has written and directed. "The No. 1 thing is I want people to say: 'That was a really fun B-movie."'

After his 2006 flop "Lady In the Water," which was slammed by critics and grossed just $73 million at the box office worldwide, some critics say the pressure is on the 37-year-old Indian-born American, so he has returned to what he does best -- scaring people.

His two previous "scary" movies, 1999's "The Sixth Sense" starring Bruce Willis and 2002's "Signs" starring Mel Gibson, made more than $1.7 billion globally between them. But analysts are puzzled as to how "The Happening" will do when it opens around the world this week.

"His box office record has been all over the map, but he's held to such a high standard because of how well 'The Sixth Sense' did," said Paul Dergarabedian, box office analyst for Media By Numbers.

"I don't think this is going to be 'Lady in the Water,"' he said. "This is definitely going to be a stronger opening then that. The marketing has been pretty strong, and audiences are always intrigued by M. Night Shyamalan."

Brandon Gray, president of movie Web site Box Office Mojo, agreed. But he added that because Shyamalan is promoted as a key selling point -- his name appears above the title on movie posters -- a box office failure is more harmful to him.

"Even though 'Lady in the Water' is by no means the greatest flop ever and 'The Village' did a lot of business, it just disappointed a lot of people," Gray said.   Continued...

<p>Actors John Leguizamo (L), Zooey Deschanel (2nd R), Mark Wahlberg (3rd L), and Ashlyn Sanchez (2nd L) arrive with director M. Night Shyamalan for the premiere of the film "The Happening" in New York June 10, 2008. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson</p>