So the weekend box office figures are in, and although M. Night Shyamalan is being credited with "rebounding" somewhat from the unequivocal failure that was Lady in the Water, I seriously doubt he's dancing around his house flipping the bird out in every direction this morning.
The Happening made an adequate 30 million since its release on Friday, but what's worth noting is what, and who, beat it. Rather than sit through Shyamalan's supposedly big-themed "vision" -- something he pushed as high-brow right up until hedging his bet at the very last minute and declaring that he purposely set out to make a B-movie -- millions flocked to see not one but two on-screen characters that don't even exist.
Both The Incredible Hulk and the irritatingly Jack Black-voiced Kung Fu Panda are wholly CGI creations, and both cleaned Shyamalan's clock -- forcing him to settle for third place on a weekend that saw no new studio releases other than his and the Hulkster.
What's more, the bank taken in by The Happening over the weekend will likely be the only first-run money the movie ever sees; there's just no way it's not dropping back 60% this week, as almost anyone who actually wants to see this dreck already did within the past 72 hours.
I'd like to think that all of this will be enough to give the director a much-needed dose of humility and make him think twice about haughtily turning up his nose at -- and raising his voice to -- those who don't defer to his special brand of self-inflated brilliance, but somehow I doubt it.
After this weekend though, let me be the first to spoil the ending of this little saga by revealing the big upcoming twist for you: Shyamalan's reputation as a visionary genius is dead, and the supposedly impressive filmmaking skills he wields have been that way all along.
(Update: And then there's this -- according to IMDB, Mark Wahlberg claims that Shyamalan turned him into a nervous wreck during the making of The Happening by helping him to "get in touch with his inner paranoid." Wahlberg says the nightmares have carried over into his personal life since well after the film wrapped. While I could make oodles of good jokes about Shyamalan giving just about everyone he comes into contact with nightmares one way or another, best I just let the director, as usual, come to his own defense via that special brand of M. Night humility we've all come to know and love. "It's a bad rap. I'm a good guy!" the director says. You know something, Night? At least I admit that I'm kind of a jerk. You on the other hand are made all the more dickheadier by the fact that you actually think you're a prince. Seriously man, go fuck yourself.)
(*For the record, The Green Effect was the working title of The Happening. Ironic, considering that he got crushed by The Hulk.)