M. Night Shyamalan has revealed that he didn’t tell Universal that Split was a sequel to his Disney film Unbreakable.
It wasn’t until an early screening of the film with the studio that Split‘s twist was revealed; that Bruce Willis’ Unbreakable character David Dunn existed in the same universe as the new film.
“I go to the Universal Studios chairman, (the) marketing team, everyone’s in the theatre. We pull down the lights and we play them Split,” Shyamalan recalled on the ReelBlend podcast.
“The lights go down. They watch the whole movie of Split. 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!’”
Shyamalan assured Universal that he had permission to make the connection between the two films. “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?”
To keep Split‘s twist from Universal, Shyamalan left out the scene in question when he turned in his shooting script to its executives. He didn’t shoot the scene until after the studio first started testing Split without it.
“We previewed [the film] without that end scene on,” the filmmaker said.
To shoot the scene, Bruce Willis travelled to Shyamalan’s home city of Philadelphia.
“I was like, ‘Well, I did this movie, and it’s kind of in the “Unbreakable” world. 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.’”
“In my opinion, it’s to do with our dysfunctional relationship with time that we all have until we’re forced to examine it,” the writer-director told NME. “Whether it’s the pandemic or the situation for these characters.”