He did it.
In a feat that many critics thought the director could never achieve again, M. Night Shyamalan broke a string of box office duds to have the top film in North America. And he did it by man-handling Vin Diesel.
Split, a horror film starring James McAvoy losing control of his various personalities, destroyed the box office competition this weekend, earning $40.2 million, according to early box office estimates compiled by The Numbers. It nearly doubled the weekend of Diesel’s movie, xXx: Return of Xander Cage, which Paramount Pictures says made just $20.1 million.
Made on a reported budget of just $5 million, Shyamalan jumped back into movie directing relevance with a powerful film that just meant a minimal risk for Universal Pictures – and already a large return.
It’s the biggest opening for Shyamalan since The Last Airbender in 2010, and the first time he has had a film at the top of the box office since The Village earned $50.7 million in July 2004.
Shyamalan not only quieted his long-time critics, but also proved that this particular weekend in January can be a prosperous one for Hollywood. Just last year, the top film at the box office was The Revenant, which only needed $16 million to claim the crown.