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Now that M. Night Shyamalan's Glass has been in theaters for a few weeks, it's safe to say the film was both a box office success and disappointment. Billed as the first proper "event" film of 2019, Glass arrived in theaters with much fanfare since it served as the long-gestating conclusion to Shyamalan's Eastrail 177 trilogy. The unlikely franchise kicked off with the director's 2000 film Unbreakable and surprisingly continued with 2017's Split. Fans of both movies were excited to see what Shyamalan had in store, especially since there seemed to be endless potential in combining the intriguing characters.
Sadly, the end results were something of a mixed bag. While there's no denying Glass contains some truly fascinating ideas and is a refreshing change-of-pace from the typical superhero movie, it was bogged down in baffling execution and narrative twists that left viewers feeling confused and unsatisfied. After a small comeback, Shyamalan was unable to live up to expectations (again), and Glass' word-of-mouth seemed to have some impact on its commercial performance. The film will go down as a box office hit, but those involved were likely hoping for much more.
After a string of duds that culminated with the failure that was After Earth ($60.5 million total domestically), Shyamalan went back to his roots with the well-received thriller The Visit, which made $98.4 million worldwide against a $5 million budget. But it wasn't until Split that Shyamalan's redemption arc seemed complete. Buoyed by James McAvoy's scintillating performance as Kevin Wendell Crumb (and his numerous personalities), Split likewise earned positive reviews and grossed $278.4 million globally against only a $9 million budget. Split, of course, ended with the now-famous reveal that it's set in the Unbreakable universe, setting the stage for an exciting showdown.
Given the success of Split coupled with the palpable hype for Glass, it seemed like Shyamalan's latest could be destined for the record books. The earliest box office projections for Glass had it pegged for as much as $75 million in its domestic opening weekend, which would have been a new all-time mark for Shyamalan's career. However, these estimates came out weeks before the first Glass reviews went live, and the film's mixed reception apparently killed some of the enthusiasm casual audiences had for the project. Glass ended up earning $40.5 million in its first three days, a respectable number for sure, but one that barely topped the $40 million debut of Split.
And this is why a case can be made Glass' box office is a tad underwhelming. In a vacuum, the film is in solid shape (more on that in a bit), but it's still a step back from Split. Remember, Split was marketed as a standalone Shyamalan thriller, with its larger connections saved as a surprise for the premiere. The fact that it made $40 million was an impressive accomplishment, seeing that its projections were set at a far more modest $25.5 million. In the case of Glass, it premiered against minimal competition (the glut of Christmas releases had already done most of their damage) and boasted a very visible marketing campaign akin to a Hollywood tentpole. Not only that, fans of Unbreakable had waited close to two decades for David Dunn and Elijah Price to return to the big screen, so it was surprising to see the turnout be so low relative to what was expected.
Things didn't exactly improve for Glass as its domestic run continued. Despite winning three consecutive weekends (which can be attributed to the films Glass played against, rather than Glass' merits), the film saw a steady decline in business. Through 19 days in theaters, it's earned $90.6 million domestically. Split, on the other hand, made $101.1 million in the same timeframe. In all likelihood, Glass will not outgross its predecessor Stateside, especially with some high-profile new releases on the horizon. Surely, its time at the top of the charts will come to an end this weekend with The LEGO Movie 2 opening, and next week sees titles like Happy Death Day 2U and Alita: Battle Angel compete for ticket sales. Glass is going to slide down the rankings now, but Shyamalan can rest easy knowing his passion project wasn't a lost cause.