M. Night Shyamalan, after a string of twisty hits, found himself in the cinematic doghouse when his filmography took a turn for the weird and he fell out of public favor. He was having trouble financing films after disappointments like The Last Airbender, After Earth, and Lady in the Water dominated his narrative in the industry. If you can’t get money from studios, you have to get it from somewhere else.
So the director took a step back, only to return to the top of the box office with found-footage hit The Visit, which he financed entirely himself. The same happened with its follow-up Split. Shyamalan is looking to replicate the success of these two indie gambles by continuing to use his own property as collateral for the Split sequel Glass.
In a report from Forbes, the news that Shyamalan was financing his third feature in a row was supplemented with a personal detail: The director supplied the $20 million budget for the film through the earnings of his other two self-funded projects and through using collateral on his Pennsylvania estate. In order to continue maintaining creative control (even if reviews haven’t been spectacular for Glass), Shyamalan put his own home on the line. That’s guts.
The film was reportedly a “negative pickup for both Universal and BVI,” according to Deadline. That means the studio agreed to pay a fee to the director upon the delivery of the completed film, but since Shyamalan was supplying the full budget, if he spent too much, he’d get to a point where even the fee wouldn’t cover his expenses.
Taking gamble after gamble has paid off for the ambitious thriller helmer, so much so that he’s been able to double down on his investments and used a film to pay for its sequel. But knowing that Shyamalan has that extra bit of skin in the game — his own money, his own home, his own reputation — certainly makes his successes that much sweeter to watch for fans.