M. Night Shyamalan: Where Did It All Go Wrong?

Posted on July 22, 2006

Newsweek rips apart screenwriter/direct M. Night Shyamalan in a pretty vicious article. M. Night's new film, The Lady in the Water is pretty much sinking at the office and the critics don't like it either. Newsweek says that the word among Hollywood insiders is that Shyamalan is talented but his ego has spiraled out of control and it's affecting his creativity (he acts in, directs and wrote the screenplay for The Lady in the Water.)
[J]udging from conversations with impartial observers around Hollywood, the perception is that success has gone to his head. "It feels like the entire town is rooting for him to fail," says one studio exec. "Is there a 12-step program for egos?" On the eve of "Lady in the Water," M. Night Shyamalan has cooperated with a book that details his arguments with Disney president Nina Jacobson. She advised him, for instance, not to cast himself as a visionary writer whose book will change the world. Shyamalan ignored her, and made the movie at Warner Bros. "He has completely burned a bridge at Disney," says a top agent. NEWSWEEK, some say, is partly to blame for Shyamalan's arrogance. "When your fine magazine proclaimed him "The Next Spielberg" on the cover, this was all fated," says a studio exec.

Since that article four years ago, Shyamalan's movies-namely "The Village" and "Lady in the Water" have certainly become more artificial and less engrossing. The success of The Sixth Sense gave him total creative autonomy, and he has isolated himself in Pennsylvania, where all his movies are made. "When someone is given total artistic freedom," says one blockbuster producer, "the result is usually bad."
Ah, well at least we know where it all went wrong now. It's all Newsweek's fault. And that sound you just heard? It was the collective gasp of horror from all the screenwriters who heard that blockbuster producer's comment about how giving writers creative control on their own projects is always a disaster.