With his fifth No. 1 box office opening, M. Night Shyamalan has plenty to celebrate.
“Glass,” the conclusion to a trilogy that consists of the 2000 cult hit “Unbreakable” and 2016’s box office sensation “Split,” topped the box office last weekend — though its win comes with a few caveats.
James McAvoy reprised his role from “Split” and Bruce Willis and Samuel L. Jackson returned as their characters from “Unbreakable” in the psychological thriller that now ranks among the best openings ever during the month of January, and the third highest for the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday. “Glass” is expected to earn $47 million in North America during its first four days of release, along with $48.5 million overseas for a global start north of $95 million.
Still, “Glass” came in slightly behind Universal Pictures’ estimates heading into the weekend. But with a budget of $20 million that was put up by Shyamalan himself, the debut of “Glass” is enough for the studio to breathe a sigh of relief after reviews and tracking threw some question marks into the equation.
Here are five takeaways from the opening weekend of “Glass”:
Reviews aren’t everything, though they do hold some weight
“Glass” had all the ingredients to become a hit. Its $47 million opening weekend is nothing to sneeze at, but industry analysts were initially more bullish, anticipating a four-day debut north of $70 million at the domestic box office alone. The final entry in a series that began with “Unbreakable” and was linked to “Split” in a post credits scene had a lot to live up to. And then came the reviews. Early reactions, most of which griped that “Glass” didn’t live up to expectations, only tempered anticipation and dulled momentum.
M. Night Shyamalan hasn’t lost his touch — but he hasn’t found it either
M. Night Shyamalan’s career has had more twists and turns than, well, an M. Night Shyamalan film. After a string of embarrassing misfires such as “After Earth” and “The Last Airbender,” movie buffs feared the director of “The Sixth Sense” and “Signs” wasn’t the box office draw he used to be. That notion changed in 2015 when “The Visit” pulled off a few good frights and pulled in $98 million worldwide on a budget of $5 million. It was the next year, however, that audiences welcomed what is largely considered to be Shyamalan’s true return to form: “Split.” The psychological horror film about a deranged man with 24 personalities became a surprise hit, amassing $278 million globally. Its scant $9 million budget makes that film’s profit margins all the more lucrative. The latest results from “Glass” show he can still churn out a commercially appealing movie, but there’s always going to be a big unpredictability factor.
Blumhouse: Too Small to Fail?
There’s at least one bona fide winner when all is said and done. Blumhouse Productions, the company that produced “Glass,” can seemingly do no wrong. That is thanks mostly to horror maestro Jason Blum’s low-budget approach to filmmaking. Blumhouse typically makes movies for under $10 million, with sequels and existing IP being the exception for incentive to shell out a few extra bucks. The small price tag attached to Blumhouse titles (“Glass” being on the more expensive end of that range at $20 million) means the profitability index can soar sky high when a movie connect with audiences. In 2018 alone, Blumhouse produced “Halloween,” “Insidious: The Last Key,” and “The First Purge” for small potatoes only to bring back massive box office receipts each well over $100 million.
Don’t underestimate the perfect release date
After a busy holiday season that saw “Aquaman” and “Mary Poppins Returns” cap off a banner 2018, it was all quiet on the box office front. Until now, January was free of any sure-fire hits, and audiences were hankering for a blockbuster. Enter “Glass,” which now boasts the third-best debut for both January and the Martin Luther King Jr. weekend. January is traditionally a slower month at multiplexes, serving as the perfect runway for “Glass.” There’s also not much on the landscape ahead, meaning the movie could be sitting atop box office charts for a little while longer.
Horror is hotter than ever
You heard it here first: horror’s hot streak shows no signs of slowing down. Few genres have performed as consistently at the box office, and “Glass” is just the latest example of moviegoers craving a good scare. It could boil down to good ol’ fashion escapism, though one could argue cable news is just as frightening as any thriller these days. But while rom-coms have been thriving on streaming services like Netflix and Hulu, nothing can beat the communal experience of horror. A recent study by Movio found that horror mavens are a loyal crowd, going to theaters more often per year than the average moviegoer. There’s nothing like things that go bump in the theaters.