The Unbreakable film series is an American superhero thriller and psychological horror film series, involving the derailment of the fictitious Eastrail #177 train. The films were written, produced, and directed by M. Night Shyamalan. The trilogy consists of Unbreakable (2000), Split (2016), and Glass (2019).
All of the films feature the character David Dunn. The series has been noted for its differences to more traditional superhero movies, with Shyamalan's work referred to as "the first auteur shared superhero universe". It is the first superhero franchise that is written and directed by one person, in comparison to other popular films in the genre. Shyamalan has noted that while it is based on comic book superheroes, and refers to comic books, it is not actually derived from comic book material itself. In contrast to most superhero films, the series is also generally grounded in reality, and is seen as a deconstruction of the superhero genre. The series is thus considered to be a unique take on the superhero genre.
The filmmaker has stated that the films are origin stories, of people with unique gifts, with the intent being to acknowledge that every person has something special about them. Split has been called the first solo supervillain story and Hollywood's first stealth sequel.
Development[edit | edit source]
The series originated with the film Unbreakable, directed by Shyamalan and released in 2000. When M. Night Shyamalan conceived the idea for Unbreakable, the outline had a comic book's traditional three-part structure (the superhero's "birth", his struggles against general evil-doers, and the hero's ultimate battle against the "archenemy"). Finding the birth section most interesting, he decided to write Unbreakable as an origin story. At the time, comic book themed superhero films were niche, so the film was marketed as a psychological thriller like Shyamalan's breakout film The Sixth Sense, rather than as a superhero film. According to Shyamalan, "I was on a conference call with the studio, and they were saying we can’t mention the word ‘comic books’ or ‘superheroes’ because it’s too fringe".
Upon release in 2000, Bruce Willis revealed that Unbreakable was the first part of a planned trilogy. Both Willis and Samuel L. Jackson pushed for a sequel or trilogy, with Willis stating "It's really built as a trilogy," but Shyamalan expressed uncertainty and said, "I can’t tell you anything about them." Whether the film had a sequel depended upon how it would perform at the box office. While Unbreakable was a moderate box office success, grossing $248 million worldwide on a $75 million budget, it performed below expectations, earning about a third of what The Sixth Sense grossed. Unbreakable gained more popularity over time and subsequently developed a cult following, as the audience for comic book superhero films grew over time. Out of Shyamalan's career, some have referred to Unbreakable as his best work. In terms of superhero films, it was listed in Time's list of "Top 10 Superhero Films" of all time, ranked at number four. Quentin Tarantino also included Unbreakable on his list of top 20 films released since 1992.
The second film Split originated from the character of Kevin who had been in one of the early drafts of Unbreakable, but Shyamalan had pulled the character out, stating there were balancing issues at that time. With Split, he brought in some of the scenes he had written for Unbreakable around Kevin. Split became a box office success, with over 2,000% return on investment (ROI), making it the most profitable film of 2017, paving the way for a third film. While Shyamalan has stated that he is usually not a fan of making sequels, the stars of the first film, Bruce Willis and Samuel L. Jackson, had asked him to consider making a sequel. Shyamalan has said he plans on a trilogy, with the third film, Glass, released in 2019, being the last, but may continue making more if the inspiration for writing the material is there
Films[edit | edit source]
|Film||U.S. release date||Director||Screenwriter||Story by||Producers|
|Unbreakable||November 22, 2000||M. Night Shyamalan||Barry Mendel & Sam Mercer||M. Night Shyamalan|
|Split||January 20, 2017||Jason Blum & Marc Bienstock|
|Glass||January 18, 2019|
Unbreakable (2000)[edit | edit source]
- Main article: Unbreakable
David Dunn is the sole survivor of a devastating train wreck. Elijah Price is a mysterious stranger who offers a bizarre explanation as to why David escaped without a single scratch, an explanation which threatens to change David's family and his life forever.
During filming for The Sixth Sense, M. Night Shyamalan approached Bruce Willis for the role of David Dunn. Sometime after, Samuel L. Jackson alongside Willis, were announced to be the two leads of the film. Prior to the film's production, Jackson met with Willis discussing the script. Principal photography began April 25, 2000, and finished in June the same year.
Split (2016)[edit | edit source]
- Main article: Split (2016 American film)
Kevin Wendell Crumb has evidenced 23 personalities to his trusted psychiatrist, Dr. Karen Fletcher, although there remains one still submerged who is set to materialize and dominate all of the others. Compelled to abduct three teenage girls led by the wilful, observant Casey Cooke, Kevin reaches a war for survival among all of those contained within him, as well as everyone around him, as the walls between his compartments shatter.
In October 2015, James McAvoy was cast as the film’s primary antagonist, Kevin Wendell Crumb. Originally, Joaquin Phoenix was cast for the role. The same month, Anya Taylor-Joy, Betty Buckley, Jessica Sula, and Haley Lu Richardson were cast in the film. Following cast announcements, Universal Pictures revealed the film's title as Split. Principal photography began November 2015 and finished in June 2016.
Glass (2019)[edit | edit source]
- Main article: Glass (2019)
Following the events of Split, security guard David Dunn uses his superstrength and supernatural abilities to track Kevin Wendell Crumb, a disturbed man who has 24 personalities. As David and Kevin engage in a series of escalating encounters, Elijah Price orchestrates everything from the background, all the while holding secrets critical to both men.
Bruce Willis, Samuel L. Jackson, Spencer Treat Clark, Charlayne Woodard, James McAvoy, and Anya Taylor-Joy are set to reprise their roles from Unbreakable and Split. In July 2017, Sarah Paulson was cast as a new character. In November, Adam David Thompson was cast in an undisclosed role. Principal photography began October and finished in December 2017.
Future[edit | edit source]
Although the series is currently slated as a trilogy, Shyamalan mentioned that he would be open to a continuation if the inspiration came to him.
Themes[edit | edit source]
While the three movies are superhero films, in that unrealistic "super" powers are featured, Shyamalan notes that one of the main themes of the movies is that there are extraordinary powers in everyone. He also notes that rather than being a "comic book movie" each of them is a movie about comic books. While the movies are connected, each has a separate style. Unbreakable is a mystery film, regarding a man who is the sole survivor of a catastrophic train crash. Split is a horror movie, exploring the origin story of a supervillain, while Shyamalan has stated that Glass will be a different thematic feel as well. Producer Jason Blum has referred to them as "superhero movies", noting that they are very different from Marvel Studios' films.
Cast and crew[edit | edit source]
Cast[edit | edit source]
The Protector / The Overseer
|Bruce WillisC||Bruce Willis|
The Mastermind / Mr. Glass
|Samuel L. Jackson
Johnny Hiram JamisonY
|Mentioned||Samuel L. Jackson|
Johnny Hiram JamisonY
|Kevin Wendell Crumb
The Collective / The Horde
|Joey HazinskyC||James McAvoy||James McAvoy|
|Joseph Dunn||Spencer Treat Clark||Spencer Treat Clark|
|Mrs. Price||Charlayne Woodard||Charlayne Woodard|
|Mrs. Crumb||Dianne Cotten MurphyC||Rosemary HowardC|
|Casey Cooke||Anya Taylor-Joy
|Audrey Dunn||Robin Wright Penn
|Dr. Dubin||Michael Kelly|
|Dr. Mathison||Eamonn Walker|
|The Orange Man||Chance Kelly|
Stadium Drug Dealer
|M. Night ShyamalanC|
|Dr. Karen Fletcher||Betty Buckley|
|Claire||Haley Lu Richardson|
|John Cooke||Brad William Henke|
|Mr. Cooke||Sebastian Arcelus|
|Dr. Ellie Staple||Sarah Paulson|
|Daryl||Adam David Thompson|
Additional crew & production details[edit | edit source]
|Unbreakable||James Newton Howard||Dylan Tichenor||Eduardo Serra||Touchstone Pictures
Blinding Edge Pictures
Barry Mendel Productions
Limited Edition Productions, Inc.
|Buena Vista Pictures||106 minutes|
|Split||West Dylan Thordson||Luke Franco Ciarrocchi||Mike Gioulakis||Blinding Edge Pictures
|Universal Pictures||117 minutes|
|Glass||Joseph Castaliano||Touchstone Pictures
Blinding Edge Pictures
Buena Vista International
Reception[edit | edit source]
Box office performance[edit | edit source]
Unbreakable was a moderate box office success, grossing 248.1 million in ticket sales on a 75 million budget, but there was minimal profit and it performed below expectations, earning about a third of what The Sixth Sense grossed. Unbreakable underperformed at the box office due to several reasons, primarily because many people expected it to be a similar film to Shyamalan's smash success psychological horror film, The Sixth Sense, which it was not.
Split grossed $278 million against a $9 million budget, becoming a surprise box office success.
|Film||U.S. release date||US gross||International gross||Worldwide gross||Budget||Ref|
|Unbreakable||November 22, 2000||$95,011,339||$153,106,782||$248,118,121||$75 million|||
|Split||January 20, 2017||$138,291,365||$140,162,993||$278,454,358||$9 million|||
|Glass||January 18, 2019||$90,689,910||$111,577,963||$202,267,873||$20 million|||
Critical response[edit | edit source]
|Unbreakable||69% (166 reviews)||62 (31 reviews)||C|
|Split||76% (276 reviews)||62 (47 reviews)||B+|
|Glass||36% (319 reviews)||42 (51 reviews)||B|
Accolades[edit | edit source]
|Unbreakable||Saturn Award||Best Action/Adventure/Thriller Film||Nominated|
|Black Reel Award||Black Reel Award for Best Film Poster|Best Film Poster||Nominated|
|Golden Trailer Award||Best Horror/Thriller Film||Won|
|Blockbuster Entertainment Awards||Favorite Actor - Suspense||Bruce Willis||Nominated|
|Samuel L. Jackson||Nominated|
|Favorite Supporting Actor - Suspense||Spencer Treat Clark||Nominated|
|Favorite Supporting Actress - Suspense||Robin Wright||Nominated|
|Bram Stoker Award||Best Screenplay||M. Night Shayamalan||Nominated|
|Nebula Award||Best Script||Nominated|
|International Horror Guild Award||Best Film||Nominated|
|Split||London Film Critics' Circle||Young British/Irish Performer of the Year||Anya Taylor-Joy (also for Morgan and The Witch)||Nominated|
|MTV Movie & TV Awards||Best Actor in a Movie||James McAvoy||Nominated|
|Saturn Awards||Best Thriller Film||Nominated|
|Best Supporting Actress||Betty Buckley||Nominated|
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