How ‘The Sixth Sense’ became a classic horror film

On this day in 1999, “The Sixth Sense,” a small film from a then-unknown 29-year-old writer-director named M. Night Shyamalan, first hit theaters.

The film, which cost $40 million to make, went on to earn $672 million worldwide, becoming the second-highest-grossing movie of the year in the states, after “Star Wars: Episode I — The Phantom Menace.” It was also the highest-grossing horror film in history until it was surpassed in 2017 by “It.”

“The Sixth Sense” also made Hollywood history with one haunting line — “I see dead people” — and a mind-bending surprise ending.

It was an ending that started a craze of imitations with their own surprise twists.

Toni Collette’s character hires child psychologist Dr. Malcolm Crowe, played by Bruce Willis, to assess her troubled son, Cole, played by a then-10-year-old Haley Joel Osment, who’s being haunted by visions of the deceased.

Crowe helps Cole learn not to be afraid of the dead people he sees but. of course, it’s later revealed that Willis’ character is one of those dead people, too.

“The Sixth Sense” earned six Oscar nominations, including best supporting actress for Collette and best supporting actor for young Osment, as well as best picture, best director and best screenplay nominations for Shyamalan. It’s since become a supernatural movie classic.

Shyamalan went on to write and direct the 2000 hit “Unbreakable,” again starring Bruce Willis and with Samuel L. Jackson. A series of high-profile box office misfires followed until Shyamalan got back to his more modestly budgeted thriller roots with 2017’s “Split,” starring James McAvoy, with a twist ending that revealed to be a sequel to “Unbreakable.” The trilogy was completed with the 2018 hit “Glass,” which united Willis, Jackson and McAvoy.

Shyamalan’s next film is rumored to be the drama “Labor of Love,” about a widower, possibly played by Willis, who walks across the country to demonstrate his love for his late wife. So far, there’s no announced release date.

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