‘Glass’ attempts to cap ‘Unbreakable,’ ‘Split’ trilogy

Director M Night Shyamalan (2nd left) with actors Samuel L Jackson, Sarah Paulson and British actor James McAvoy at the European premiere of ‘Glass’ in London. (AFP pic)

M Night Shyamalan’s “Glass” ties up the “Unbreakable” superhero trilogy and, despite early review wobbles, is predicted to beat both of its predecessors in terms of opening weekend take.

One of the films that established M Night Shyamalan at the start of his writing and directing career was the year 2000’s “Unbreakable,” an original superhero story before box office revenues were reshaped by the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

It reunited Shyamalan with his star from twist thriller “The Sixth Sense,” Bruce Willis, and gave him a second consecutive critical and box office hit.

Nearly 20 years later, January 2019’s “Glass” brings in the “Unbreakable” hero, invincible security guard David Dunn (Willis) and his nemesis, the brittle boned, razor-sharp strategist Mr. Glass (Samuel L. Jackson,) along with Kevin Crumb (James McAvoy), the 24-personality villain of surprise 2016 sequel “Split,” as well as that film’s survivor heroine Casey (Anya Taylor-Joy).

All three superpowered men end up inside a high security psychiatric facility where they are treated by Dr Ellie Staple (Sarah Paulson), who works to convince them that their superpowers, so comprehensively documented by the previous two films, are no more than convincing delusions. But to what end – and how can she hope to contain them?

Ahead of the film’s North American release on January 18 (and its same-week roll-out in France, the Philippines, Australia, Hong Kong, Netherlands, Singapore, Canada, Ireland, UK and elsewhere), early reviews indicate that “Glass” might struggle to hit the highs of “Unbreakable” or “Split.”

Yet, though it’s registering at an aggregate score of 46/100 (Metacritic) or 38% approval (Rotten Tomatoes,) tracking estimates published at the end of 2018 predicted a US$70 million domestic box office debut.

There’s not much new release competition for “Glass,” arriving as it does on the USA’s Martin Luther King weekend.

For comparison, “Unbreakable” landed US$30 million over its first weekend and “Split,” which carried Shyamalan’s return to form over from low-budget horror “The Visit,” grabbed US$40 million USD over its first weekend which, like “Glass,” landed on the MLK holiday.

In terms of popular and commercial success, “Unbreakable” reached US$95m domestically and US$248m worldwide, while “Split” climbed to US$138m and US$278m respectively.

Those two films shared average review scores of 62/100 (Metacritic), with “Unbreakable” recommended by 69% of reviews and “Split” by 76% according to Rotten Tomatoes’ logs, factors that could both boost “Glass”‘s initial appeal and hinder its overall chances should negative comparisons be made with the first two films.