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SYFY WIRE Knock at the Cabin

What 'Knock at the Cabin' director M. Night Shyamalan learned on 'Signs' that informed his career

"Signs was me saying, 'Don’t take [the money] unless you’re having fun and you’re entertaining.'"

By Gina Salamone
Signs (2002)

If early projections are correct of how M. Night Shyamalan's Knock at the Cabin will fare at the box office this upcoming opening weekend, it's clear fans are pretty psyched for the psychological horror flick. But that goal to entertain others while pulling off a project that's satisfying to himself was something the writer/director says he perfected much earlier in his career: while making the 2002 sci-fi horror flick, Signs.

That film immediately followed 2000's Unbreakable, which generally received positive reviews but was heavily compared to Shyamalan's breakout success, The Sixth Sense, with some saying Unbreakable had a weaker ending.

RELATED: 'Knock at the Cabin' projected to dethrone 'Avatar' for No. 1 at the box office this weekend

So, when working on Signs — starring Mel Gibson, Joaquin Phoenix, Rory Culkin, and Abigail Breslin — Shyamalan paid more attention to box office potential, he told The Hollywood Reporter in a new interview.

"There’s always a balancing act for me between art and entertainment, which I equally love," Shyamalan said. "So I went, “Well, maybe Unbreakable was too much art and not enough entertainment. And in my heart, I feel that I was probably leaning 60-40 into the art world. But I take it seriously that we’re entertainers. That’s our job. This art form isn’t paints and a canvas. It’s not a book and a pen. It costs a lot of money to do this art form, and when you decide to take that money — no matter how much that is — you are making a commitment to the audience. And so Signs was me saying, 'Don’t take [the money] unless you’re having fun and you’re entertaining.'"

RELATED: 'Knock at the Cabin' flips the apocalypse and home invasion genres, Shyamalan says

The mindset paid off, as Signs went on to make more than $60 million on its opening weekend (the biggest debut for a Mel Gibson film) and earn more than $227 million in the U.S. and another $180 million internationally, falling only behind The Sixth Sense financially for a Shyamalan film.

Meanwhile, Universal Pictures' Knock at the Cabin, opening in wide release this Friday, is expected to soar to the top box office spot, according to early financial projections by Deadline. Projections have the film making $15 to $17 million in North American ticket sales on opening weekend, knocking Avatar: The Way of Water out of its more-than-month-long reign.

Craving more horror? Jordan Peele's NOPE is now streaming on Peacock