With “Split”, M. Night Shyamalan bridges two other of his films: “Unbreakable” and “Glass”. A trilogy that almost never saw the light of day, since the filmmaker was not sure of being able to include the end of the thriller with James McAvoy…
Split : “the Beast” about to arise
In 2017, two years after The VisitM. Night Shyamalan reteamed with producer Jason Blum, a specialist in low-budget horror films that create great surprises at the box office (Paranormal Activity, Insidious, Sinister, Get Out). Once again, the recipe fora clever concept associated with limited sets works with Split.
The feature film begins on a chilling scene. Dennis, one of Kevin Wendell Crumb’s (James McAvoy) personalities, kidnaps three teenage girls: Marcia (Jessica Sula), Claire (Haley Lu Richardson) and Casey (Anya Taylor-Joy). Locked up, the latter quickly discovers that their captor suffers from dissociative identity disorder.
Kevin has already revealed 23 personalities, with completely different characteristics. Some of them are scared of the imminent arrival of a 24th: “the Beast”. Casey understands that she has very little time to try to escape before this monster appears…
Betty Buckley and M. Night Shyamalan round out the cast of Splitwhich brings in more than $278 million in worldwide revenue on a budget of just nine million, according to Box Office Mojo. During the last seconds of the film, Bruce Willis takes over the role of David Dunn for an epilogue announcing a sequelwhich the filmmaker can start thanks to this success.
Universal producers shocked by ending
The surprising outcome of the feature film gives hope a clash between “the Beast” and the hero ofUnbreakable. A confrontation that takes place in 2019 in Glass. This third part of the trilogy also marks the return of Elijah Price, played by Samuel L. Jackson.
A conclusion that almost never saw the light of day, given that M. Night Shyamalan wasn’t sure he could tie Unbreakable and Split. Guest in 2021 in the podcast ReelBlend of the site CinemaBlend for the promotion of the thriller Oldthe director recalls the moment he considered a super heroic sagaasking for the agreement of Disney (which owns the rights toUnbreakable) without notifying the Universal producers behind Split :
I’m going to see the president of Universal, the marketing team… Everyone is in the room. We turn off the lights and we throw Split. They don’t know the end. They don’t even know I shot it because I didn’t send them the rushes. (…) They look at me and say: “What are you doing? It’s a Disney movie!” And I tell them, “It’s fine. We have permission to do that!”
Bruce Willis surprised but leaving
The interpreter of David Dunn therefore also had to keep the secret around the astonishing and enticing end of Split. Bruce Willis has moreover agreed to shoot the scene without knowing if it could appear in the editingas M. Night Shyamalan recounts:
When I wrote the movie, I didn’t include that final scene. I sent the script to the studio without this scene. We shot and tested it without this scene. The best part was when I was like “let’s go” and called Bruce and said, “Hey man, could you come to Philadelphia and shoot this thing for me?”
He was like, “What? Why?” And I said to him, “Well, I made this movie, which is sort of in the universe ofUnbreakable. I don’t know if we will be able to shoot a sequel one day. Could you just come for three hours bro?” And he was like, “Yeah, yeah. I will come”.