Credit: Spyglass/Buena Vista

The Sixth Sense First Shocked the World 24 Years Ago Today

M. Night Shyamalan hit the big time on this day in 1999 when his supernatural drama The Sixth Sense arrived in theaters and brought with it that twist. But all these years later, it’s so much more than that revelation alone.

Child Psychologist Malcolm Crowe (Bruce Willis) comes into contact with a troubled young boy called Cole Sear (Haley Joel Osment) who claims he can see the spirits of the dead. Cole gets Malcolm to aid him in helping these lost souls and in return Cole tries to help close the growing void in Malcolm’s marriage to his wife (Olivia Williams).

The film also stars Toni Collette as Cole’s mother, Donnie Wahlberg as a troubled former patient of Malcolm, and Mischa Barton as a sickly young ghost.

The Success and Legacy of The Sixth Sense

Credit: Spyglass/Buena Vista

The film was something of a sleeper hit not even featured in Entertainment Weekly’s 134-film summer preview that year. It would go on to earn $672,806,292 at the box office worldwide, be rented by a whopping 80 million people the following year on VHS and DVD, and be nominated for six Oscars including Best Supporting Actor for Haley Joel Osment.

Shyamalan’s nomination for Best Director put him in an esteemed company as one of just six directors to be nominated before they reached the age of 30. Unfortunately, just like previous nominees Orson Welles, John Singleton, Claude Lelouch, George Lucas, and Sir Kenneth Branagh, Shyamalan did not win.

As would become customary with many of Shyamalan’s earlier films in this era (and some later ones), the twist ended up being the major talking point, but the film more than holds up to repeat viewings. Whether it’s the performances, the haunting James Newton Howard score, or just spotting all the little clues about the big reveal, The Sixth Sense remains one of the director’s best films.

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