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WHY: Perhaps exhibs gave Shyamalan the tap because they’re grateful for the aggressive stand he took in favor of traditional release windows last year. “I’d like to think having four movies that averaged over $400 million (at the global box office) had something to do with it,” notes Shyamalan, writer-helmer of “The Sixth Sense,” “Unbreakable,” “Signs” and “The Village.” “And I do have a new movie coming out.”

LADY’S NIGHT: Bowing in July, Shyamalan’s next project will feature Oscar contender Paul Giamatti playing an apartment superintendant who rescues a drowning young woman, only to find out that she’s a character in a children’s bedtime story. What, no spooky ghosts, tormented comicbook geeks or sinister woodland creatures? “It does have a suspenseful bent, but the lean is definitely towards the light and the positive sense,” Shyamalan says of his most recent work, which gestated in the nighttime tales he concocts for his own daughters. “In all my movies, I’ve tried to be pretty honest as to where my head’s at. And this time, I’m in a pretty peaceful place. “I’m getting older,” adds the 36-year-old Philadelphia native.

WINDOW PAINS: The nod adds a little coastal symmetry to Shyamalan’s mantelpiece — he received ShoEast’s version of the honor following the $228 million domestic perf of “Signs” in 2002. But it’s hardly necessary for Shyamalan to continue championing the cause of the traditional theatrical release amid a flurry of recent criticism of that age-old model. “The answer isn’t to close the theatrical window, it’s to stop making $200 million movies that are only justified by their ancillary markets,” Shyamalan says. “What makes a movie successful in a movie theater is different from what makes it successful on DVD or cable TV… And in the end, if you tell a great story, the (sequential release) model is unbeatable.”