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Glass has screened for two groups at this point: Critics and fans at special advance screenings. The lucky fans in question just got to watch the new movie in The M. Night Shyamalanathon triple feature of Unbreakable, Split, and Glass. As you can imagine, the group reactions have been very different.
The early fan screenings produced much more positive responses. It could be because the fans saw all three films at once, getting the complete trilogy story in one pass. Also, director M. Night Shyamalan was at the Alamo Drafthouse Brooklyn discussing the film in a broadcast shared with the other theaters. His own enthusiasm, and explanations of process and intention, could only have elevated the experience for those viewers.
So those fans were already set up to be more receptive toward the film. Fans at early screenings do tend to be more positive in general than Average Joe and Jane, who spend their hard-earned money at the theater and are not shy with their disappointment if it felt like wasted time.
There were definitely some disappointed voices out there from the early fans, but overall there was more enthusiasm. Does that suggest fans -- in general -- will like Glass much more than the critics, once Glass opens wide to the rest of us on Friday, January 18?
Here's the reaction of one satisfied fan from the Alamo screenings:
Here's another happy moviegoer:
And here's another pleased attendee:
Here's some perspective from another viewer who apparently broke her M. Night cherry watching the trilogy?
This viewer is looking forward to more from M. Night Shyamalan and The Beast himself, James McAvoy:
Here's a more measured critique:
And here's someone with some of my own questions in mind:
Yes. Fans can, of course, screen Unbreakable and Split at home before heading to the theater to see Glass -- but you are not going to be in a similar event setting, and M. Night Shyamalan is not going to be there to lead a discussion afterward.
The disconnect between critics and fans is nothing new, but it only seems to be growing. Since critics tend to post their reactions first, there may be some cause-and-effect going on. If critics build something up, it sets up high expectations that fans sometimes respond to by not liking films as much. If critics trash something, low expectations often leave fans liking the film more than they expected. And other times, critics and fans just organically have completely different takes. (And it's not like all critics have the same opinion, and all fans share the same opinion. Far from it. We are not The Borg.)
It has taken M. Night Shyamalan about 19 years to get this trilogy to the screen, and he shared an emotional post a week before Glass' official opening. This is a big deal for him, but also for fans with high expectations. Most of the critics are also big fans, so when many shared disappointment it came from the same place of hope that Night would knock Glass out of the park. The answer to whether he did or not will be up to the individual moviegoer.