According to Variety, Split, the psychological horror thriller by M. Night Shyamalan, finished first at the box office with $40.2 million in ticket sales, exceeding industry estimates by roughly $20 million dollars.
Shyamalan has become a director who can once again turn a profit for studios after a pair of disasterous big budget failures in the form of After Earth and Avatar: The Last Airbender. Things got so bad for the formerly trendy director, that Shyamalan even took a break from directing to write a book about school reform entitled I Got Schooled, hoping to cash in on the state and federal money available to would-be “saviors” of education.
Realizing that the cut-throat world of Hollywood was a safer and less controversial place to conduct business than the shady corners populated by education reformers, Shyamalan returned to Tinseltown with 2015’s The Visit. The low budget horror film cashed in, grossing $98,450,062 worldwide on a $5 million dollar budget. While studios might not trust Shyamalan with $15o million dollar tent pole films, they seem to be willing to allow him to direct more traditional low budget horror films (Split’s production costs are reportedly under $1o million dollars and were primarily financed by the director himself). The prolonged success of Split in a surprisingly competitive season for horror films will determine if the director of the Sixth Sense and Signs gets another shot at big budget box office glory.
Last week’s horror hit The Bye Bye Man waved bye-bye to ticket sales, finishing in 9th place with an estimate just over $3 million dollars. Even worse, Underworld: Blood Wars lost half of its screens this weekend after only two weeks of release and plummeted to roughly $1.5 million dollars.
Look for this trend of quick exits to continue with Resident Evil: The Final Chapter opening next weekend and the third film in the Ring trilogy Rings opening on February 3rd.