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M. Night Shyamalan Biography, Early life, Career, Books, Personal life, Filmography, Critical analysis, Awards and nominations, Controversies, FAQs.

M. Night Shyamalan’s Biography

Manoj Nelliyattu “M. Night” Shyamalan is an Indian-American filmmaker known for his unique storytelling style. He often weaves supernatural elements and surprising twists into his movies. His films have collectively earned over $3.3 billion worldwide.

Born in Mahé, India, Shyamalan grew up in Penn Valley, Pennsylvania. He started his career with movies like “Praying with Anger” (1992) and “Wide Awake” (1998). However, he gained widespread recognition with his breakthrough film “The Sixth Sense” (1999), which earned him nominations for Best Director and Best Original Screenplay at the Academy Awards.

Real NameManoj Nelliyattu Shyamalan
Familiar nameM. Night Shyamalan
ProfessionFilmmaker and actor
Birth LocationMahe, Puducherry India
Age52 years old
Heights1.78 m
Height(s) Feet5 feet and 10 inches
Height(s) cm178 cm
Weight(s)75 kg
Weight(s) in pound165 pounds
Dates withTo be Updated
Marital StatusMarried
SpouseBhavna Vaswani (m. 1993)
ChildrenYes (Saleka Shyamalan, Ishani Shyamalan, Shivani Shyamalan)
Net Worths$80 million

Following the success of “The Sixth Sense,” Shyamalan went on to direct films like “Unbreakable” (2000), “Signs” (2002), and “The Village” (2004). Despite facing criticism for some of his later works such as “Lady in the Water” (2006) and “The Happening” (2008), he made a comeback with movies like “The Visit” (2015), “Split” (2016), “Glass” (2019), “Old” (2021), and “Knock at the Cabin” (2023).

Apart from his work in film, Shyamalan has also been involved in television as an executive producer and occasional director. He worked on the series “Wayward Pines” (2015–2016) and the psychological horror series “Servant” (2019–2023) for Apple TV+, where he also served as a showrunner.

M. Night Shyamalan’s Early life

M. Night Shyamalan was born in Mahé, India, but his family moved to the United States when he was just six weeks old. Growing up in Penn Valley, Pennsylvania, Shyamalan attended Waldron Mercy Academy and later the Episcopal Academy for high school. Despite being raised Hindu, he attended Catholic and Episcopal schools, feeling like an outsider due to his religious background.

Even though his father, a neurologist, hoped he would pursue a career in medicine, Shyamalan’s passion for filmmaking was evident from a young age. He received a Super 8 camera as a gift and began making home movies, eventually creating forty-five by the time he was seventeen. Despite pressure to follow a different path, Shyamalan’s mother encouraged him to pursue his creative dreams.

After earning scholarships, Shyamalan attended New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, where he honed his skills in filmmaking. It was during his time there that he adopted “Night” as his second name.

Shyamalan’s early films reflect his childhood passion for filmmaking, as he includes scenes from his homemade movies on DVD releases of his films, considering them his earliest attempts at the same craft he practices professionally.

M. Night Shyamalan’s Career

M. Night Shyamalan began his filmmaking journey with Praying with Anger, a semi-autobiographical film, while still a student at NYU. Despite limited resources, he managed to bring his vision to life with the help of family and friends. His second film, Wide Awake, explored themes of faith and loss through the eyes of a young Catholic boy. While it didn’t make big waves at the box office, it earned recognition for its performances.

Shyamalan’s big breakthrough came with The Sixth Sense in 1999, a chilling tale that captivated audiences worldwide and earned him multiple Academy Award nominations. Following this success, he delved into the realm of superheroes with Unbreakable, another hit with both critics and audiences alike.

Despite his rising status in Hollywood, Shyamalan faced setbacks and challenges. His involvement in projects like Signs and The Village showcased his knack for crafting suspenseful stories, but not without mixed reviews. He also had opportunities to work on high-profile projects like Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone and Indiana Jones, although these ultimately didn’t come to fruition.

Shyamalan’s career saw its share of ups and downs with films like Lady in the Water and The Happening, which received mixed reception. However, he bounced back with The Visit, a low-budget thriller that exceeded expectations at the box office.

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In recent years, Shyamalan has continued to surprise audiences with intriguing narratives, such as Split and Glass, which further explored the superhero genre. His latest ventures, including Old and the upcoming Knock at the Cabin and The Watchers, showcase his ongoing commitment to storytelling.

Beyond the big screen, Shyamalan has left his mark on television with series like Servant and Wayward Pines, demonstrating his versatility as a storyteller across different mediums. His production company, Blinding Edge Pictures, remains at the forefront of his creative endeavors, with a new deal with Warner Bros. promising more exciting projects to come.

M. Night Shyamalan’s Books

While working on his movie “The Happening,” Shyamalan became interested in finding ways to improve education in American schools. To delve into this topic, he enlisted the help of doctoral student James Richardson for thorough research. Their collaboration led to the publication of “I Got Schooled: The Unlikely Story of How a Moonlighting Movie Maker Learned the Five Keys to Closing America’s Education Gap” by Simon and Schuster in 2013.

Reviewing the book, John Willol of NPR described it as a compelling call for change in America’s education system. Shyamalan’s writing style is easy to follow, blending research with personal insights. He offers innovative ideas untethered by traditional educational norms, making a persuasive case for reform.

M. Night Shyamalan’s Personal life

Shyamalan met his wife, Bhavna Vaswani, while they were both students at New York University, and they later got married. Together, they have three daughters, including Ishana, who is a director, and Saleka, who is a musician. Shyamalan’s cousin is actor Ritesh Rajan.

The family resides near Philadelphia in a place called Ravenwood, which sits on a vast 125-acre estate. Their home is a beautiful 1937 Georgian Revival house spanning 27,000 square feet.

Shyamalan is an avid fan of the Philadelphia 76ers basketball team and holds season tickets to their games.

In 2023, Shyamalan made headlines when he purchased a sprawling 218-acre estate from the Rockefeller family in Willistown Township, Chester County, Pennsylvania. The property boasts five historic houses and two barns, and he acquired it for $24 million.

M. Night Shyamalan’s Filmography

M. Night Shyamalan, an Indian-American filmmaker and actor, kicked off his career back in 1992 with his student project “Praying with Anger.” He wore many hats for this film, serving as the writer, director, producer, and even starred in it. Following that, he penned the scripts for the comedies “Wide Awake” (1998), which he also directed, and “Stuart Little” (1999). However, it was his work on the supernatural thriller “The Sixth Sense” in 1999 that catapulted him to fame. This movie earned him Academy Award nominations for Best Director and Best Original Screenplay.

Shyamalan continued his journey with “Unbreakable” (2000), a superhero flick and the first installment in the Eastrail 177 Trilogy, which includes “Split” (2016) and “Glass” (2019). Following the success of “Unbreakable,” he brought forth “Signs” (2002) and “The Village” (2004), solidifying his reputation for crafting stories with unexpected twists.

However, the following decade proved challenging, marked by a string of critical disappointments with films like “Lady in the Water” (2006), “The Happening” (2008), “The Last Airbender” (2010), and “After Earth” (2013).

In 2015, Shyamalan joined forces with Universal Pictures for “The Visit,” a film that struck commercial success, earning $98.5 million against a modest $5 million budget. Universal continued its collaboration with him on subsequent projects, including “Split,” “Glass,” “Old” (2021), and “Knock at the Cabin” (2023).

Looking ahead, Shyamalan’s upcoming film “Trap” is slated for release by Warner Bros. Pictures in 2024.

Film Credits:
  • 1992: Praying with Anger (Director, Writer, Producer)
  • 1998: Wide Awake (Director, Writer)
  • 1999: The Sixth Sense (Director, Writer)
  • 2000: Unbreakable (Director, Writer, Producer)
  • 2002: Signs (Director, Writer, Producer)
  • 2004: The Village (Director, Writer, Producer – Uncredited executive soundtrack producer)
  • 2006: Lady in the Water (Director, Writer, Producer)
  • 2008: The Happening (Director, Writer, Producer)
  • 2010: The Last Airbender (Director, Writer, Producer)
  • 2013: After Earth (Director, Writer, Producer – Co-written with Gary Whitta and Will Smith)
  • 2015: The Visit (Director, Writer, Producer)
  • 2016: Split (Director, Writer, Producer)
  • 2019: Glass (Director, Writer, Producer)
  • 2021: Old (Director, Writer, Producer)
  • 2023: Knock at the Cabin (Director, Writer, Producer – Co-written with Steve Desmond and Michael Sherman)
  • 2024: Trap (Director, Writer, Producer – Post-production)
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Writer and/or Producer Only:

  • 1999: She’s All That (Rewrites – Uncredited)
  • 1999: Stuart Little (Writer)
  • 2010: Devil (Story, Producer)
  • 2024: The Watchers (Producer – Post-production)
  • TBA: Caddo Lake (Producer – Post-production)

Acting Credits in Films:

  • 1992: Praying with Anger (Dev Raman)
  • 1999: The Sixth Sense (Dr. Hill)
  • 2000: Unbreakable (Jai – Credited as “stadium drug dealer”)
  • 2002: Signs (Ray Reddy)
  • 2004: The Village (Jay – Credited as “guard at desk”)
  • 2006: Lady in the Water (Vick Ran)
  • 2008: The Happening (Joey – Played a voice on a phone call made by a character)
  • 2010: The Last Airbender (Firebender – Uncredited)
  • 2016: Split (Jai)
  • 2019: Glass (Jai)
  • 2021: Old (Hotel van driver)
  • 2023: Knock at the Cabin (Infomercial co-host)

Television Credits:

Director and/or Executive Producer:

  • 2015–16: Wayward Pines (Director, Executive Producer – Episode: “Where Paradise Is Home”)
  • 2019–23: Servant (Director, Executive Producer – Episodes: “Reborn”, “Jericho”, “2:00”, “Donkey”, “Awake”)

Acting Credits in Television:

  • 2007: Entourage (Himself – Episode: “Sorry, Harvey”)
  • 2019–20: This Is Us (Himself – Episodes: “The Pool: Part Two” and “A Hell of a Week: Part Two”)
  • 2019: Servant (Delivery man – Episode: “Reborn”)

Critical and Public Response to Films:

[Provide Rotten Tomatoes scores, Metacritic scores, and CinemaScore ratings for each film listed from 1992 to 2023.]

Critical analysis and box-office performance

Rolling Stone magazine once dubbed M. Night Shyamalan as “the guy who makes the scary movies with a twist,” attributing this reputation to his film The Sixth Sense. However, Shyamalan himself clarified in 2008 that not all of his movies necessarily have twist endings or are solely focused on horror. He emphasized that his films carry spiritual and emotional depth.

In his younger years, Shyamalan grappled with the idea of being pigeonholed into making thrillers exclusively. However, he eventually embraced this direction, realizing that just like when he picks up a mystery novel, audiences come with certain expectations.

Critics have pointed out a recurring theme in Shyamalan’s work, noting that his films often present intricate worlds that may unravel under scrutiny. Despite acclaim for some films, he has also faced criticism, earning nominations and wins for Golden Raspberry Awards for movies like Lady in the Water, The Happening, The Last Airbender, and After Earth. Nevertheless, his works such as The Village, Lady in the Water, and Split have garnered recognition from prestigious institutions like Cahiers du Cinéma.

Shyamalan’s affinity for shooting his films in and around Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and nearby areas like Reading is well-known. Many of his successful projects have been in collaboration with major studios like Walt Disney Studios’ Touchstone and Hollywood Pictures, as well as Universal.

Here’s a breakdown of how M. Night Shyamalan’s films have been received by critics and audiences, along with their financial performance:

  • “Praying with Anger” (1992): No ratings available. No information on budget or box office earnings.
  • “Wide Awake” (1998): Received a 45% rating on Rotten Tomatoes from 33 reviews. Made on a $6 million budget, but earned only $305,704 at the box office.
  • “The Sixth Sense” (1999): Earned an 86% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and an A– CinemaScore. Despite its $40 million budget, it soared at the box office, raking in an impressive $673 million.
  • “Unbreakable” (2000): Garnered a 70% rating on Rotten Tomatoes with a CinemaScore of C. It made $248 million worldwide against a $75 million budget.
  • “Signs” (2002): Received a 75% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and a B CinemaScore. With a $72 million budget, it grossed $408 million globally.
  • “The Village” (2004): Earned a 43% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and a C CinemaScore. Despite mixed reviews, it made $257 million on a $60 million budget.
  • “Lady in the Water” (2006): Received a 25% rating on Rotten Tomatoes with a B– CinemaScore. It earned $73 million worldwide against a $70 million budget.
  • “The Happening” (2008): Critically panned with an 18% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and a D CinemaScore. It made $163 million globally on a $48 million budget.
  • “The Last Airbender” (2010): Severe criticism with a 5% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and a C CinemaScore. However, it earned $319 million worldwide despite its $150 million budget.
  • “After Earth” (2013): Received a 12% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and a B CinemaScore. Despite mixed reviews, it grossed $251 million against a $130 million budget.
  • “The Visit” (2015): Earned a 68% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and a B– CinemaScore. Made on a $5 million budget, it grossed $98 million.
  • “Split” (2016): Received a 78% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and a B+ CinemaScore. It grossed $279 million worldwide on a $9 million budget.
  • “Glass” (2019): Critically divided with a 37% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and a B CinemaScore. It made $247 million on a $20 million budget.
  • “Old” (2021): Earned a 50% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and a C+ CinemaScore. It grossed $90 million worldwide on an $18 million budget.
  • “Knock at the Cabin” (2023): Received a 67% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and a C CinemaScore. It made $54 million against a $20 million budget.
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In total, Shyamalan’s films have collectively earned over $3.162 billion at the box office, despite mixed critical receptions.

M. Night Shyamalan’s Awards and nominations

Academy Awards:

  • 2000: Nominated for Best Director and Best Original Screenplay for “The Sixth Sense”.

BAFTA Awards:

  • 2000: Nominated for Best Direction and Best Original Screenplay for “The Sixth Sense”.

Golden Globe Awards:

  • 2000: Nominated for Best Screenplay for “The Sixth Sense”.

Other Awards and Nominations:

  • Amanda Awards: Nominated for Best Foreign Feature Film for “The Sixth Sense”.
  • Annie Awards: Nominated for Writing in a Feature Production for “Stuart Little”.
  • Bram Stoker Awards: Won Best Screenplay for “The Sixth Sense”, and nominated for “Unbreakable” and “Signs”.
  • Chicago Film Critics Association Awards: Nominated for Best Screenplay for “The Sixth Sense”.
  • Chlotrudis Awards: Nominated for Best Screenplay for “The Sixth Sense”.
  • Christopher Awards: Won Best Film (shared) for “Signs”.
  • Directors Guild of America Awards: Nominated for Outstanding Directing – Feature Film for “The Sixth Sense”.
  • Empire Awards: Won Best Director for “The Sixth Sense”, and nominated for “Signs” and “The Village”.
  • Fangoria Chainsaw Awards: Nominated for Best Wide-Release Film for “The Visit”.
  • Golden Raspberry Awards: Won Worst Director and Worst Screenplay for “Lady in the Water”, and won the same for “The Last Airbender”.
  • Hugo Awards: Nominated for Best Dramatic Presentation for “The Sixth Sense”.
  • Nebula Awards: Won Best Script for “The Sixth Sense”, and nominated for “Unbreakable”.
  • Online Film Critics Society Awards: Nominated for Best Screenplay for “The Sixth Sense” and “Signs”.
  • Palm Springs International Film Festival: Won Sonny Bono Visionary Award.
  • Rondo Hatton Classic Horror Awards: Nominated for Best Genre Film for “Signs” and “The Visit”.
  • Satellite Awards: Won Best Screenplay, Original for “The Sixth Sense”.
  • Saturn Awards: Nominated for Best Writing for “The Sixth Sense”.
  • SFX Awards: Nominated for Best SF or Fantasy Film Director for “Signs”.
  • ShoWest Convention: Won Director of the Year.
  • Stinkers Bad Movie Awards: Nominated for Worst Director and Worst Screenplay for “Lady in the Water”.
  • Writers Guild of America Awards: Nominated for Best Original Screenplay for “The Sixth Sense”.

These awards and nominations reflect the recognition and acknowledgment received by Shyamalan for his work in the film industry.

M. Night Shyamalan’s Controversies

Here’s a simplified version of the information:

SyFy Channel Hoax:
In 2004, there was a media hoax involving M. Night Shyamalan and SyFy Channel. They aired a fake documentary called “The Buried Secret of M. Night Shyamalan,” claiming that he had died as a child for nearly 30 minutes after drowning in a frozen pond. Supposedly, this experience led him to communicate with spirits, sparking his interest in the supernatural. However, it was later revealed that Shyamalan and SyFy had planned the hoax together to promote his film “The Village.” The hoax included fake news stories and a nonexistent SyFy publicist. SyFy’s parent company, NBC Universal, disapproved of the stunt.

Plagiarism Accusations:

  • Robert McIlhinney, a screenwriter, sued Shyamalan in 2003, claiming that “Signs” resembled his unpublished script.
  • Margaret Peterson Haddix suggested that “The Village” resembled her book, “Running Out of Time.”
  • In response, Disney and Shyamalan’s company denied the claims.
  • Orson Scott Card also claimed similarities between “The Sixth Sense” and his novel, but he didn’t pursue legal action.

Pop culture and racism

Criticism and Racism:
After “The Happening” came out, some critics questioned if M. Night Shyamalan was treated unfairly due to his Indian background and unique name. The British Film Institute also talked about how racism might have affected his career, noting that people often mispronounced his last name. By 2017, some media outlets were even using a disrespectful nickname, “Shamalamadingdong,” to mock him.

Egotism and Critical Attacks:
The British Film Institute wondered if Shyamalan’s confidence and success with films like “The Sixth Sense” led to harsher criticism when his later movies didn’t do as well. They questioned if his self-assuredness made him a target. In 2019, a writer for The Washington Post suggested that Shyamalan’s confidence might have been mistaken for arrogance, especially when he cast himself in “Lady in the Water” as a world-saving writer. Despite this, some admired his determination to create original work at a young age.

M. Night Shyamalan’s Net Worth in 2024:

As of 2023, M. Night Shyamalan is believed to have a whopping net worth of $80 million. His wealth comes from the success of his movies like “The Sixth Sense,” “Split,” and “Glass,” as well as from his own production company, Blinding Edge Pictures.

Estimated Net Worth:$80 million
Born:August 6, 1970
Country of Origin:United States
Source of Wealth:Filmmaker, Actor

Frequently Ask Questions

How much money does M. Night Shyamalan have?
He has a net worth of $80 million.

What does M. Night Shyamalan do for a living?
He works as a filmmaker and actor.

How old is M. Night Shyamalan?
M. Night Shyamalan is 52 years old.

Is M. Night Shyamalan in a relationship?
Yes, he is married.

How tall is M. Night Shyamalan?
He stands at 1.78 meters tall.

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