M. Night Shyamalan thriller ‘Split’ tops box office for third straight weekend

M. Night Shyamalan is still riding high on Split, which led the box office for its third weekend straight with $14.6 million in ticket sales in North America.

The flick, a thriller starring a multiple personality disorder-afflicted James McAvoy, now counts its three-week box office total at $98.7 million. Shyamalan self-financed the film, which was shot in the Philadelphia area (and features a Ukee Washington cameo), for under $10 million.

It's unusual for a low-budget horror film such as Split to display the box-office dominance it has the past few weeks, although Super Bowl weekends to lack a big release due to that event's huge audience. Next week, Split will have to contend with John Wick: Chapter 2, Fifty Shades Darker and The Lego Batman Movie (all sequels, while Split is an original idea).

Split opened Jan. 20 to a $40.2 million weekend, giving Shyamalan his first number-one movie in more than a decade. Prior to Split's release, the director's last film to open at number one was The Village, which opened with $50.7 million at the box office in July 2004.

The film continues a return to form for Shyamalan, who had long flirted with irrelevancy in Hollywood thanks to a string of critically panned films that included 2006's Lady in the Water, 2008's The Happening, 2010's The Last Airbender, and 2013's After Earth. Shyamalan broke that streak in 2015 with The Visit, a $5 million horror film that brought in $98.5 million at the box office.

As the Associated Press reports, Paramount horror film Rings came in behind Split at the box office with an estimated $13 million in ticket sales. That film picks up where 2002's The Ring and 2005's The Ring Two left off in the horror franchise.

A Dog’s Purpose, which recently made headlines over a faked video of the film’s canine star enduring abuse, took third place with $10.8 million. Following outrage online, an investigation this month found that the video in question had been edited to misrepresent the situation.

Shyamalan said last month that he hoped to follow Split with a sequel to 2000’s Unbreakable, telling Uproxx that he  plans on "making a final Unbreakable movie” and that he is “intending on doing it next.” On Twitter over the weekend, the directer said an outline for the film already is in the works: 

However, as Variety points out, Shyamalan previously described Split as a sequel to Unbreakable. [SPOILER] The film also features Unbreakable star Bruce Willis in a cameo that provides a signature Shyamalan twist.

In addition to his film project, Shyamalan also is working on a reboot of classic horror TV show Tales from the Crypt for TNT. Network president Kevin Reilly said in January that Shyamalan would curate the shows, as well as do some directing on the series.