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When Glass, director M. Night Shyamalan‘s long-awaited sequel to both 2000’s Unbreakable and 2017’s Split, arrives in theaters next year, it will clock in at just over two hours. But Shyamalan has revealed in an interview that his original cut came in at three hours and twenty minutes – more than an hour and a half longer than Unbreakable and more than eighty minutes longer than Split.

Read on to learn how he was able to leave such a huge percentage of his new movie on the cutting room floor.

At the end of Shyamalan’s psychological thriller Split, which starred James McAvoy as a character with multiple personalities (one of which is an evil being named The Beast), Bruce Willis‘s David Dunn character from Unbreakable appeared in a cameo, revealing that the two movies were set in the same cinematic universe. The stage was set for those characters (and Samuel L. Jackson‘s Elijah Price) to meet in a third film, and that’s finally happening with Glass, Shyamalan’s new riff on superhero mythology.

In an interview with Digital Spy, the director explained that his first cut was significantly longer than the final cut ended up being:

“The script was really long, it was almost 150 pages and the first cut of the movie was 3 hours and 20 minutes, it was really long. Then it started tightening [and] tightening until we got to the 2.08 that you can see.”

It sounds like that three-hour-plus version wasn’t an assembly cut, but a full version of this new story. So how did he shave out over thirty percent of the movie? Shyamalan basically said much of what was in that first cut wasn’t necessary, specifically referencing a scene in which one of McAvoy’s personalities introduces herself to some teenage girls he’s kidnapped:

“All she needs to go is, ‘My name is Patricia’ and you’re there. That’s a much longer scene in the screenplay where you’re reliving the humor and the relationship and the connection to the girls and even realizing she has multiple personalities.”

It sounds like he was able to take a step back, look at the film from an objective viewpoint, and trim the fat wherever it appeared. That’s not an easy task for any director, and that level of perception seems especially surprising from Shyamalan, who, unfairly or not, previously cultivated a reputation as a filmmaker who may have been stubborn to a fault. He continued:

“I said to [rights owners] Disney and Universal, ‘Pretend there’s no previous movies and I came to you and I said that ‘I want to make a movie about a hospital that treats people who believe they’re superheroes and three of their patients escape. I want to make you that movie, will you make that movie? Oh and by the way, it stars Bruce Willis, Sam Jackson, James McAvoy and Sarah Paulson. Will you make that movie?’ Yes, you’ll make that movie… Person XYZ who hasn’t seen the other two will come to see that.”

Ah, there it is. You can hear a little bit of that classic Shyamalan arrogance shining through in that last quote. We’ll find out if he’s right about general audiences turning up to see his new movie when Glass hits theaters on January 18, 2019.

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