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The Real Reason We Never Got The Sequel To M. Night Shyamalan's Devil

Since breaking onto Hollywood's A-list of directors with 1999's landmark supernatural thriller The Sixth Sense, M. Night Shyamalan has had a career full of titanic ups and downs. On the strength of wildly original projects like Unbreakable (2000) and Signs (2002), the twist-loving writer-director was initially hailed as the second coming of Spielberg. He'd unfortunately also go on to deliver some of the biggest flops of the 2000s (see: 2008's The Happening, 2010's The Last Airbender, and 2013's After Earth).

Thankfully, the talented director has rebounded of late, largely by focusing on modestly budgeted projects with blockbuster potential, a la 2015's The Visit and 2016's Split. Shyamalan first utilized that low-risk, big-reward strategy for 2010's supernatural chiller Devil (which he produced from his original concept), about a group of strangers who get trapped in an elevator and discover the actual Devil is in their midst. Produced on an estimated budget of $10 million according to The Numbers, the film went on to clear north of $60 million during its theatrical run, per Box Office Mojo, making it one of the bigger hits of Shyamalan's career. 

It turns out that Devil was also pegged as the first in a series of similarly-styled features, dubbed The Night Chronicles, to be overseen by Shyamalan himself. The first of those spiritual sequels, a supernatural legal thriller titled Reincarnate, was announced soon after Devil's debut, with Daniel Stamm (The Last Exorcism) and Chris Sparling (Buried) on board to direct and write. Over a decade later, that film still hasn't materialized, with many presuming The Night Chronicles concept is dead in the water. Per a recent interview with ComingSoon.net, Shyamalan seemingly confirmed the series' official D.O.A. status without directly acknowledging it. In doing so, he also teased that Universal may have balked at going ahead with the franchise purely for lack of vision.

Shyamalan believes studios weren't ready for his small-budget approach when Devil was released

Given Shyamalan's career arc after Devil hit theaters, it's not entirely shocking that Universal Pictures bosses opted to pull the plug on the specifically-branded The Night Chronicles. And Shyamalan certainly did himself no favors by delivering the reviled adaptation of The Last Airbender, which seemed like a blockbuster slam dunk if ever there was one, the same year Devil made its debut. Even still, the studio may regret the decision, as the film's low-risk, big-reward approach has become something of an industry-standard as counterprogramming to the relentless onslaught of tentpole fare. 

While artfully dodging questions about what really happened with The Night Chronicles in that ComingSoon.net interview, Shyamalan seemed to insinuate that his Universal bosses just didn't see that strategy as viable a decade ago. "It was funny, I think the industry has changed so much. When I was thinking of making more contained, lower budget movies at that time, that felt like a side thing [for a major studio]." He went on to say that the experience ultimately served as inspiration for his current and preferred mold of movie-making: "Then I just started doing them myself. So what was supposed to be The Night Chronicles became the way I [now] make movies. I've just enjoyed these last six years so much doing this."

That shift in approach continues to pay off for Shyamalan, despite the subpar critical reception (per Rotten Tomatoes) of 2019's trilogy-capping box office hit Glass. Indeed, he's continued to utilize the strategy for his current Apple TV+ hit Servant and his upcoming feature Old. As it is, Shyamalan's obvious vindication apparently still hasn't sparked interest in reviving The Night Chronicles, which sadly means we'll likely never get to see his "12 Angry Men with a supernatural element" thriller Reincarnate.