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Take Shyamalan's Name Off the Devil Trailer!

Photo of Anne Thompson By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood August 4, 2010 at 5:01AM

M. Night's Shyamalan's The Last Airbender was slammed by critics: it earned an abysmal 8% on the Tomatometer. No question that since Shyamalan's strong breakout The Sixth Sense, followed by Unbreakable and Signs, his last features (The Village, Lady in the Water, and The Happening) are trending downward with both critics and more important, audiences. And movie sites have not hesitated to catalogue everything wrong with the director, and to offer constructive advice.
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Thompson on Hollywood


M. Night's Shyamalan's The Last Airbender was slammed by critics: it earned an abysmal 8% on the Tomatometer. No question that since Shyamalan's strong breakout The Sixth Sense, followed by Unbreakable and Signs, his last features (The Village, Lady in the Water, and The Happening) are trending downward with both critics and more important, audiences. And movie sites have not hesitated to catalogue everything wrong with the director, and to offer constructive advice.

That, the singularly entitled director will not pay heed to, from New York Mag asking him about his negative reviews and Screen Rant's examination of what went wrong to Cinematical calling the end of his directing career. For more detailed insight, read Michael Bamberger's The Man Who Heard Voices: Or, How M. Night Shyamalan Risked His Career on a Fairy Tale, a truly chilling portrait of how Hollywood's lax parenting creates monsters.

The just-released new poster and trailer for Devil are after the jump.

Thompson on Hollywood

That's Shyamalan's curse. He's a gifted writer of original screenplays--which are often quite commercial--but he lives in Philadelphia, and he doesn't listen to anyone, neither then-Disney exec Nina Jacobson, who tried to tell him what was wrong with Lady in the Water, nor his long-time UTA agent Jeremy Zimmer, who the director ditched.

The big reveal came in Hall H at Comic-Con when the trailer for Devil unspooled on the giant screen. Within a stuck skyscraper elevator, something starts biting and preying on the unfortunate folks trapped in that tiny space. The trailer played great--until the moment when Shyalamalan's name appeared on the screen. (He wrote the original story on which Brian Nelson's screenplay is based--the movie is directed by Quarantine's John Erick Dowdle.) The hall erupted in jeers and cat calls: in an instant, the crowd had turned against the movie. Shyamalan has become a negative. They're burnt and angry and it's going to be tough for Shyamalan to turn this sentiment around. Unfortunately, in Hollywood terms, The Last Airbender opened--although the Nickelodeon title played to a young audience for whom Shyamalan's name meant nothing.

He's going to have to do some serious work to redeem his name as a marquee brand. In the meantime, I'd advise distributor Universal to take Shyamalan's name off that Devil trailer--if they want folks to show up on September 17.

This article is related to: Directors, Festivals, Genres, Studios, Video, Stuck In Love, Comic-Con, Horror , Universal/Focus Features, Trailers, Screenwriters


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Thompson on Hollywood

Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.