Master of creeps (sweeps and bleeps), M. Night Shyamalan has been scaring audiences for more than two decades with high-concept stories about beaches that make you old. But it was the ending of Split that got some of the loudest screams of his career. Not when it played for general audiences, though. It was when the director shared the shocking ending of the film with Universal. So, if you still haven’t seen Split (which you should because it’s very good) but still want to read this article, please be aware that we’re going to spoil the ending. Though, it’s also very likely that you won’t care at all. So, um, reader, beware.
Split’s surprising ending features the character David Dunn (Bruce Willis), last seen in Shyamalan’s movie Unbreakable, watching Split’s aftermath on TV. The conclusion placed Split in the wider Unbreakable universe, which Shyamalan had hinted at for years. Speaking with the ReelBlend podcast, the director said that when Universal saw a Disney character (Disney imprint Touchstone produced Unbreakable), they freaked.
“I go to the Universal Studios chairman, [the] marketing team, everyone’s in the theater,” Shyamalan said. “We pull down the lights, and we play them Split. They don’t know the ending that they’re watching. They didn’t even know I shot it because I didn’t even send them the dailies,” The lights go down. They watch the whole movie. Then this scene comes on, and they’re completely flummoxed.”
“They look at me, and they’re like, ‘What are you saying? That’s a Disney movie!’ And I go, ‘It’s all good. We have the permission to do it!’ Can you imagine? You are the chairman of the studio, and the guy shows you that it’s a sequel to a movie from another studio?”
According to Shyamalan, that scene was not in the script, meaning he sold them the picture without mentioning the ending. It was only after the movie wrapped that he and his bro Bruce decided to go to Philly for three hours and shoot:
When I wrote that movie, I didn’t put the end scene on. I handed it to the studio without that end scene on. We shot it without that end scene on. We previewed it without that end scene on. And then the best part was, I said, ‘Let’s just go for it.’ Lemme call Bruce and say, ‘Hey dude, would you just come to Philly for, like, three hours and shoot this thing for me?’ And he was like, ‘Why, what?’ And I was like, ‘Well, I did this movie, and it’s kind of in the Unbreakableworld. I don’t know if we’ll ever shoot a sequel. Do you just want to just come for three hours, bro?’ And he was like, ‘Yeah, yeah. I’ll come.’”
The twists keep on coming because Shyamalan’s latest, Old, is currently the number one movie in America. So it’s safe to assume that Universal forgives him for the scare.