Taglines: “I see dead people”
Malcolm Crowe, a child psychologist in Philadelphia, returns home one night with his wife, Anna, after having been honored for his work. Anna tells Crowe that everything is second to his work, and that she believes he is truly gifted. A young man then appears in their bathroom, and accuses Crowe of failing him. Crowe recognizes him as Vincent Grey, a former patient whom he treated as a child for hallucinations. Vincent shoots his former doctor before killing himself.
The next fall, Crowe begins working with another patient, nine-year-old Cole Sear, whose case is similar to Vincent’s. Crowe becomes dedicated to the boy, though he is haunted by doubts over his ability to help him after his failure with Vincent. Meanwhile, he and his wife seldom, if ever, speak or do anything together. Crowe feels he must help Cole in order to rectify his failure to help Vincent and reconcile with his wife. Cole’s mother, Lynn worries about his social stamina, especially after seeing signs of physical abuse. Cole eventually confides his secret to Crowe: he sees ghosts, who walk around like the living unaware they are dead.
The Sixth Sense is a 1999 American supernatural horror-thriller film written and directed by M. Night Shyamalan. The film tells the story of Cole Sear (Haley Joel Osment), a troubled, isolated boy who is able to see and talk to the dead, and an equally troubled child psychologist named Malcolm Crowe (Bruce Willis) who tries to help him. The film established Shyamalan as a writer and director, and introduced the cinema public to his traits, most notably his affinity for surprise endings.
Released by Hollywood Pictures on August 6, 1999, the film was received well; critics highlighted the performances (especially by Osment, Collette and Willis), its atmosphere, and twist conclusion. The film was the second-highest-grossing film of 1999 (behind Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace), grossing about $293 million domestically and $672 million worldwide. The film was nominated for six Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director for Shyamalan, Best Original Screenplay, Best Supporting Actor for Osment, and Best Supporting Actress for Toni Collette.
About the Production
David Vogel, then-president of production of The Walt Disney Studios, read Shyamalan’s spec script and instantly loved it. Without obtaining corporate approval, Vogel bought the rights to the script, despite the high price of $3 million and the stipulation that Shyamalan could direct the film.
Disney later dismissed Vogel from his position at the studio, with Vogel leaving the company shortly thereafter. Disney—apparently in a show of little confidence in the film—sold the production rights to Spyglass Entertainment, while retaining the distribution rights and 12.5% of the film’s box office receipt.
The color red is intentionally absent from most of the film, but it is used prominently in a few isolated shots for “anything in the real world that has been tainted by the other world” and “to connote really explosively emotional moments and situations”. Examples include the door of the church where Cole seeks sanctuary; the balloon, carpet, and Cole’s sweater at the birthday party; the tent in which he first encounters Kyra; the volume numbers on Crowe’s tape recorder; the doorknob on the locked basement door where Malcolm’s office is located; the shirt that Anna wears at the restaurant; Kyra’s mother’s dress at the wake; and the shawl wrapped around the sleeping Anna.
All of the clothes Malcolm wears during the film are items he wore or touched the evening before his death, which included his overcoat, his blue rowing sweatshirt and the different layers of his suit. Though the filmmakers were careful about clues of Malcolm’s true state, the camera zooms slowly towards his face when Cole says, “I see dead people.” In a special feature, the filmmakers mention they initially feared this would be too much of a giveaway, but decided to leave it in.
The film had a production budget of approximately $40 million (plus $25 million for prints and advertising). It grossed $26.6 million in its opening weekend and spent five weeks as the No. 1 film at the U.S. box office. It earned $293,506,292 in the United States and a worldwide gross of $672,806,292, ranking it 35th on the list of box-office money earners in the U.S. as of April 2010. Box Office Mojo estimates that the film sold over 57.5 million tickets in the US. In the United Kingdom, it was given at first a limited release at 9 screens, and entered at No. 8 before climbing up to No. 1 the next week with 430 theatres playing the film.
The Sixth Sense (1999)
Directed by: M. Night Shyamalan
Starring: Bruce Willis, Toni Collette, Olivia Williams, Haley Joel Osment, Trevor Morgan, Donnie Wahlberg, Jeffrey Zubernis, Mischa Barton, Lisa Summerour, Angelica Page
Screenplay by: M. Night Shyamalan
Production Design by: Larry Fulton
Cinematography by: Tak Fujimoto
Film Editing by: Andrew Mondshein
Costume Design by: Joanna Johnston
Set Decoration by: Douglas A. Mowat, Susannah McCarthy
Art Direction by: Philip Messina
Music by: James Newton Howard
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for intense thematic material and violent images.
Distributed by: Buena Vista Pictures
Release Date: August 6, 1999