It's pretty fascinating to see the extent of M. Night Shyamalan's sidelining during the run-up to “After Earth,” as his mounting directorial follies have led to the promotional campaign saying barely a word about him. Instead, stars Will Smith and Jaden Smith are left to carry the sci-fi film to hopeful glory, but in one of Shyamalan's select interviews, the director let a few details loose about his next film, as well as an amusing tidbit about a past one.
The big-budget tentpole, about a father and son 1,000 years in the future who crash-land their ship on Earth, is certainly on a more elevated scale from Shyamalan's previous films (read our review here); however, in a recent interview with MTV, he insisted that the high-concept also contains a deeply personal element.
“[My] screenplays are so about a moment,” he said. “For instance, 'After Earth' is about the moment of having a teenage child -- when you let your child become an adult -- and you're scared you can't protect them. So that's where I am right now in my life. My kids are young teenagers and I'm scared.”
As for what the director's feeling cinema-wise right this second, Shyamalan says his next film is “about forgiveness, and about when you've done something wrong to a family member and you're waiting for that to be healed. That's at the center - but when you see this movie, you will not think that…It's actually a little micro-[budget] film…really small, like the catering budget of this last movie.”
Other than the small-scale project and helming an upcoming TV pilot (likely SyFy's “Proof” or NBC's “Lost Horizon”) or producing a series (Fox's "Wayward Pines"), Shyamalan's future identity as a filmmaker remains a mystery, but in talking to Movies.com, he tackled the perception of himself as a twist-based trickster. Really, he says, he sees himself as between that and a more “family oriented” bent i.e. “Wide Awake” or “Stuart Little” (which he wrote), but Shyamalan's most surprising turn? A ghost-write on the Freddie Prinze Jr./Rachael Leigh Cook rom-com “She's All That.”
Perhaps the director is a stickler for shocking revelations after all, so if “After Earth” isn't your cup of Shyamalan tea this weekend, there's always a gem from 1998 awaiting a re-watch.