First we sensed it. Then we saw the signs. Now it’s happening. Note there are no references to us visiting The Village, or finding a Lady in the Water. The scuttlebutt is that after back-to-back flops from the director, this Friday’s release puts him in a make or break situation.
That may not be entirely accurate. After all, he’s already got his next gig lined up with a live-action adaptation of popular Nickelodeon toon Avatar: The Last Airbender. They’re looking to cast child actors that will age with a planned series, like the Harry Potter movies. So M. Night certainly has paychecks coming his way.
What is up for grabs is his status as a “name” director. There are only a handful of directors who are used to sell a movie, sometimes even above the actors leading the cast. That’s in play with The Happening. Other than star Mark Wahlberg, I defy you to name anyone connected with this movie other than Shyamalan without checking IMDB.
It doesn’t catch any breaks its opening weekend. As you may have heard, Incredible Hulk opens this Friday as well. That really puts The Happening in a situation of shooting for second. Fans of comic book movies generally come out in strong numbers the first week and are oblivious to any bad reviews that might leak out.
Now if word of mouth about Hulk is bad, Happening could get stronger over the weekend. It’s also got a shot as counter programming, which I’m going to assume is what executives were thinking with this release date. A lot of female film goers couldn’t be dragged into Hulk under any circumstances. A new film from the Sixth Sense director, with a Hollywood hunk like Wahlberg leading the way would be a bigger draw for the ladies.
Of course, this is the director’s first R-rated film with a theme of mass suicide. Not that the Sixth Sense was touchy feely but even Shyamalan admits pushing the envelope here. He’s joked that the initial script would have gotten an “X.”
I can’t wait to see this weekend’s receipts. Are SFUniverse fans going to see Hulk, The Happening, or both?
Image courtesy of Newscom.