M. Night Shyamalan is developing two new thriller projects for Universal Pictures planned for release in 2021 and 2023, the studio announced Monday (via Variety). The Sixth Sense and Signs filmmaker — whose past directorial projects have been distributed by Disney, Warner Bros., 20th Century Fox, Paramount, and Sony — most recently teamed with Universal on the Blumhouse-backed horror-comedy The Visit in 2015 before independently financing Unbreakable followups Split and Glass for the studio. Those small-cost hits, reportedly budgeted at a respective $9 million and $20 million, won Universal $278 million and $246 million at the worldwide box office.
Shyamalan's next two Universal movies are described only as thrillers and are being readied for theatrical releases in Feb. 26, 2021 and Feb. 17, 2023, respectively.
"M. Night Shyamalan continues to create exciting, highly original stories that keep global audiences on the edge of their seats," studio president Peter Cramer said in a statement. "There is no one like him: he is a master filmmaker working at the height of his powers, and we are honored that he has once again chosen Universal to be the home for his next two incredible projects."
According to the report from Variety, Shyamalan will also self-finance his next two films.
"There are wonderful studios out there, but Universal has made it a mandate to release original films," Shyamalan said. "They are the best at finding an audience for new stories with unexpected tones. I believe original films are crucial to the longevity of the theatrical experience. I am so excited to be working with them again and bringing new stories to the movie screen for years to come."
Shyamalan earlier confirmed with EW he's finished with the superhero-inspired Glass universe.
"I have a lot of original stories I want to tell. I'm an original filmmaker and I want to keep on telling new stories and new characters," he said in January. "It's fun for me to figure out a new language, and then learn it, and try to get an audience in two hours to learn, and accept it, and really find their way."
This next pair of projects set at Universal also rule out Shyamalan's involvement with Disney-owned Marvel Studios in the near future: the filmmaker in August said he's met with the studio behind Avengers and Black Panther "a couple of times."
Boarding one of the superhero universes established by Marvel and rival DC might be "hard to imagine," Shyamalan once admitted to Yahoo when promoting Glass.
"I want to make sure it's right for everybody. I have a strong [filmmaking] accent. It's very particular, and the best version of it is, to keep the accent. Are those movies a place for that? Or is it appropriate for that?" Shyamalan said. "Because they, in and of themselves, have their own flavor. Do they want this other Tabasco in there? So it's philosophically a question. It doesn't mean never, but it's very hard to imagine. Filmmakers that have a heavy accent — I don't necessarily want them to make those movies."