The Incredibly Bold Move M Night Shyamalan Made that Launched His Career

This month marks the 20th anniversary of the classic horror thriller The Sixth Sense, a movie that ended up being the second highest grossing film of 1999, behind only Star Wars. It racked up 6 Oscar nominations and made writer/director M Night Shyamalan a household name.

That wasn’t at all the case when he finished its script two years prior. Sure, he had a measure of success in Hollywood having sold a few scripts and directed one comedy Wide Awake that earned only $230,000

But the way M Night approached selling The Sixth Sense made all the difference in the world. Because even though he was a nobody, he believed in his script and himself, so he made outlandish demands to studios.

He says to The Hollywood Reporter he told them:

"'I have to be attached as director, and we’re going to have a $1 million minimum bid.' If they want to read it, they have to know that this is going to start at $1 million. I was 25 when I wrote it. I felt sometimes when you are writing something that no one’s asked you to write, you have to decide its worth and decide how it’s going to be in a kind of very specific way."

He told his agent: "'It’s fine if no one wants to pay that money for it. If they don’t want to make it, I will shelve it.' You have to not be bluffing when you say stuff like that. I wasn’t bluffing."

Studios obviously were willing to read it and pay a million dollars, because in the end he sold the script for just under $3 million.

 

Photo: Getty Image

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