M. Night Shyamalan And James McAvoy Talk Split And Beyond

SPOILER ALERT!
First things first: do not read on if you haven’t seen M. Night Shyamalan’s Split. Consider this the mother of all spoiler alerts.

Split

For years, one of the questions M. Night Shyamalan has had to field on a regular basis is, ‘when are you making an Unbreakable sequel?’ And for years, the writer-director of that 2000 Bruce Willis-Samuel L. Jackson thriller has demurred and deferred and said ‘maybe one day’.

But here’s an M. Night Shyamalan-style twist. Turns out that he’d been making an Unbreakable sequel right under our noses. At the end of Split, Shyamalan’s latest movie, it is revealed, first through a sound cue from James Newton Howard’s Unbreakable score and then a more explicit post-credits sting, that James McAvoy’s villainous Kevin Wendell Crumb – host to 24 warring personalities, some of whom are lethal – exists and operates in the same Philadelphia as David Dunn, Willis’ security guard-turned-superhero from that movie. Split is, essentially, Unbreakable 2. “However you want to look at it,” says Shyamalan of the semantics surrounding the title. “Maybe it’s a new format – this movie, this movie and a final movie.”

The hint is clear: Shyamalan is setting Dunn on a collision course with Crumb (and possibly Jackson’s Elijah Price, aka Mr. Glass) for that final movie, a new entry in the Unbreakable series. “I’m writing the outline now,” Shyamalan told Empire. “It’s weird. It’s long. It’s the longest outline I’ve ever had. It has so many characters… I hope if Split is a success, I’ll have the opportunity to finish the story. I want to finish it, so this is the third one.” Well, Split was a huge success at the weekend, taking $40 million, so expect this one to move from outline to script to actual film pretty quickly.

McAvoy, meanwhile, says that he didn’t know about Split’s connection to Unbreakable when he first read the script. “When I first read the script, it wasn’t there,” he says. “There was some weird little allusion to the fact that it might be linked to Unbreakable, but it was so subtle I kinda discounted it. Then on the last day of rehearsals I was like, ‘mate, is this thing linked to that thing?’ It was honestly the most subtle thing you could ever have written. None but the greatest fanboy alive would ever have noticed it. So it went from being a tiny music cue to a whole fullblown scene with a major movie star in it.”

That major movie star is, of course, Willis, and McAvoy admits that he’s looking forward to facing off against him: The Horde vs David Dunn. “When two baldies go to war,” he laughs. “My money’s on B-Dog. I hope he lets me call him that.”

For more from Shyamalan on how the twist came about, click here for our exclusive interview. For more from McAvoy on Split, check out this week’s Empire Podcast here.