THE SIXTH SENSE
Three years ago when Philadelphia-based writer-director M
Three years ago when Philadelphia-based writer-director
M. Night Shyamalan (pronounced SHA-mah-lahn) was editing his second
film, "Wide Awake," he had a premonition about his next
project. He said to his editor, "You know, I'm going to write
a screenplay called 'The Sixth Sense.' Bruce Willis is going to
star in it." The editor's response was a simple "Yeah,
sure." Flash forward to September 1997. Shyamalan recalls,
"I was in Los Angeles when my wife and I received the call
that Hollywood Pictures was interested in The Sixth Sense.
It was a very special time for us.
"I called my 'Wide Awake' editor and told him the news of
the sale and the signing of Bruce Willis as the star," Shyamalan
says. "He remembered my mention of the script. His response
this time was an enthusiastic 'Get outta here.' It was all too
eerie that my premonition actually came true."
Thus, the tone of Shyamalan's latest film, Hollywood Pictures'
Spyglass Entertainment's "The Sixth Sense," had been
set. Eerie, haunting, spine-tingling. It was a tone too irresistible
for Hollywood to ignore. The sale of the script transpired in
just a single day, a rarity in Hollywood, according to producer
Barry Mendel. "Having known Night (Shyamalan) for many years,
I was in the unique position of being able to read the script
before anyone else in town," says Mendel, whose debut film
was the critically acclaimed "Rushmore." "My reaction
to the story was one of enthusiasm and hope. Enthusiasm because
of the strength of the story and hope because I really wanted
to be part of getting this film made. It's a smart and stylish
Mendel personally took the screenplay to David Vogel, then-president
of Buena Vista Motion Picture Group. "David dropped everything
he was doing that Monday morning," says Mendel. "He
canceled meetings in order to read the script and, upon finishing
it, he was on board. I take my hat off to him for recognizing
the potential of this script and for the courage of his convictions
in greenlighting the project."
Veteran producers Frank Marshall and Kathleen Kennedy were the
next production entity to respond with interest in the script.
It's unusual to get a spec script that is so well written,"
says Marshall. "It has elements of horror and drama and a
spiritual nature that comes alive in very distinct and well-drawn
characters. Night refers to it as Ordinary People meets
The Exorcist and I think that's an appropriate description.
It's a story with vulnerable characters to which an audience can
relate an audience that will not only enjoy it but will be surprised
by its unique tale of terror.
"Kathy and I like to make movies that we ourselves would
like to see," Marshall continues. "Our body of work
includes a variety of films, from The Color Purple to
Who Framed Roger Rabbit. That's a pretty wide swing as far
as subject matter goes. We like all different kinds of movies
and The Sixth Sense is a script we enthusiastically responded
to and that's why we jumped at the chance to produce it."
"The Sixth Sense is frightening, disturbing and horrific
in the tradition of films like Rosemary's Baby, Repulsion and
The Omen," adds writer director Shyamalan. "It's
reality-based fright. It comes from the fears of real people,
real children and real adults; fears of loss, the unknown, of
having a sixth sense about what lies beyond and fear
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