After a bumpy few years, M. Night Shyamalan has rocketed back into the good graces of audiences with Split, his new James McAvoy-fronted thriller about a troubled man with a massive personality disorder who abducts three teenage girls. Though the movie has become a box office smash and fared generally well with critics, the buzz isn’t so much about its heart-pounding plot line as it is Shyamalan’s masterful revival of his signature twist endings.
In the last few minutes of the film, it’s revealed that the project is actually tangentially related to his 2000 flick Unbreakable, serving as an origin story for McAvoy’s villain The Horde. Shyamalan has since been vocal about his plans to create a proper sequel that further ties the two together, tweeting that he already has an 11-page outline in the pipeline, and has spoken to some of the Unbreakable cast about reprising their roles.
One such actor is Samuel L. Jackson, who played the murderous Mr. Glass. In a new interview with Collider, Jackson addressed his reaction to Split‘s shocking end and his involvement in the in-development sequel. As he told the publication:
“I got a call and [Shyamalan] said, ‘Call me I wanna talk to you about something.’ And I called him, because I always do when I get a message from him always hoping [it’s Unbreakable 2], and he said, ‘I just did this film called Split, I want you to see it,’ and I was like ‘OK, I’m down with that.’ I had no idea what Split was about or anything else, and he said, ‘We’ll talk after you see it.’ So I went to the arranged screening and I called him immediately and was like, ‘OK dude does this mean what I think it means?’ and he was like, ‘Well first we gotta see how the movie does’. And I think the movie’s done well enough now to merit the ‘OK, let’s put this together.’”
Indeed, the film has pulled an impressive $172.9 million worldwide against a $9 million budget. As Collider points out, there’s still plenty of hurdles to cross: Unbreakable was distributed by Disney, while Split is a Universal effort, and the two companies will need to negotiate a deal for the next project. But it’s safe to say there’s certainly demand for a follow-up. As for what its storyline may entail, Jackson said McAvoy’s character marks a compelling addition to the universe. He told Collider:
“I think he’s an adequate foe for what Bruce [Willis’] Unbreakable character is in terms of him being sort of unbreakable too in that kind of way, and me having found now—f***, that would be two people that Elijah would look at and go, ‘Why are they so this and I’m so this on this end of the spectrum?’ It’s just a matter of breaking my ass out of wherever that mental institution was they had me locked up and let’s get it on, let’s see what happens!”
If Split 2 does make it to screen, it will be interesting to see what narrative Shyamalan lands with. He’s been clear that he wants it to be mostly a standalone, but that could be tricky to pull off if he wants to tie everything together. It will also have to be a careful execution. Part of why Unbreakable wasn’t as much of a hit as Split is that it paled in the shadow of The Sixth Sense, while Split didn’t have as much anticipation going in. Now, Shyamalan has built up quite the hype. Let’s hope he can continue his redemption tour with another successful entry.