Director M. Night Shyamalan’s film Glass, which began filming this week in the director’s hometown and favored location of Philadelphia, is something unique in Hollywood history: A combined sequel to two different films, made a decade-and-a-half apart, by the same director. The film follows up both Shyamalan’s Unbreakable, from 2000, and his Split, from earlier this year, the latter of which featured a post-credits scene that brought the films’ universes together.
Glass, set for release in early 2019, will feature the casts of both films, with Bruce Willis and Samuel L. Jackson returning from Unbreakable and James McAvoy and Anya Taylor-Joy from Split, with Shyamalan returning to write and direct. But putting the two films together into one sequel took more than just creativity — it also required a rare business deal between two major studios.
According to THR, the Glass production required the combined efforts of both Universal and Buena Vista, a subsidiary of Disney, as the latter company (under its Touchstone Pictures banner) released Unbreakable and former was responsible for Split.
The deal reached by the companies puts Buena Vista in charge of the international release of Glass, while Universal will handle the domestic distribution. The appearance of Bruce Willis’ Unbreakable character at the end of Split required special permission from Disney. Blumhouse Productions, which produced Split, is on board as well. The film’s plot will reportedly pit Willis’ David Dunn against McAvoy’s Kevin Wendell Crumb, with both discovering a connection to Jackson’s Mr. Glass.
Split, released back in January, followed up the 2015 minor hit The Visit and served as Shyamalan’s biggest success in years, following a long period of films that were either critically reviled, bombed at the box office, or in some cases both. It also likely brought Shyamalan’s work to the attention of a whole new generation of fans, and brought his reputation to a state not seen since his days as the hot film auteur of the early 2000s, following his 1999 breakthrough The Sixth Sense.
When it arrives two years after Split, the challenge for Glass will be whether or not a film very much grounded in the sensibilities of 2000 can fit in with one made in the Blumhouse style of today. Furthermore, there is the question of the genres matching, as Unbreakable was more of a suspense film, while Split fit more in the horror genre. As of right now, the two studios are betting that the two films will blend just fine.
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