M. Night Shyamalan Says Universal Pictures Was 'Completely Flummoxed' with Split 's Twist Ending

·2 min read
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John Baer/Universal

M. Night Shyamalan is known for his surprise twist endings — and it seems even the movie studios don't see them coming!

The Sixth Sense director revealed that he didn't let Universal Pictures in on his plan for the twist ending in 2016's Split, which ties the movie to the same universe as his earlier 2000 film Unbreakable.

The twist scene features Bruce Willis reprising his Unbreakable character and set them up for the 2019 sequel Glass. But Shyamalan, 50, didn't run any of that by Universal first.

"I go to the Universal Studios chairman, [the] marketing team, everyone's in the theater," Shyamalan recently said on the ReelBlend podcast (as reported by IndieWire). "We pull down the lights, and we play them Split. 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 dailies. The lights go down. They watch the whole movie. Then this scene comes on, and they're completely flummoxed."

RELATED: Family Night! See M. Night Shyamalan with His Wife and Daughters at Old Premiere: 'Grow Up So Fast'

The studio was even more concerned since Willis' character and Unbreakable belonged to another studio, Disney imprint Touchstone.

"They look at me, and they're like, 'What are you saying? That's a Disney movie!' And I go, 'It's all good. We have the permission to do it!' " Shyamalan recalled. "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?"

Shyamalan is currently promoting his latest thriller Old, which debuted on top of the weekend box office with $16.9 million. The movie has a close family tie for the director, with his 16-year-old daughter Ishani serving as a second-unit director.

The Oscar nominee and Ishani spoke to The New York Times in January about working together as a father-daughter duo.

"I knew she would be a filmmaker, but I never pushed her into it. We'd watch a movie and she would really connect with what we were watching. She was able to discern what was exceptional about what we had watched," he recalled.

She added of living up to a famous last name, "There are certain expectations the last name brings. But I love that, because it's something for me to knock down. Hopefully, I put my own artistic stamp on what I create. Of course there are benefits. I was lucky to be born into a life where I have the resources to make what I want to make, something that not all women of color have."

Old is now in theaters.

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