The Sixth Sense

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The Sixth Sense
The Sixth Sense poster.png
Theatrical release poster
Directed byM. Night Shyamalan
Written byM. Night Shyamalan
Produced by
CinematographyTak Fujimoto
Edited byAndrew Mondshein
Music byJames Newton Howard
Distributed byBuena Vista Pictures Distribution
Release date
  • August 2, 1999 (1999-08-02) (Prince Music Theater)
  • August 6, 1999 (1999-08-06) (United States)
Running time
107 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$40 million[1]
Box office$672.8 million[1]

The Sixth Sense is a 1999 American supernatural psychological thriller film[2] written and directed by M. Night Shyamalan. It stars Bruce Willis as a child psychologist whose patient (Haley Joel Osment) can talk to the dead. The film established Shyamalan and introduced the cinema public to his traits, most notably his affinity for surprise endings.[3]

Released by Buena Vista Pictures (through its Hollywood Pictures label) on August 6, 1999, critics praised its performances (particularly those of Willis, Osment, and Toni Collette), atmosphere and plot twist. It was nominated for six Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Original Screenplay for Shyamalan, Best Supporting Actor for Osment, and Best Supporting Actress for Collette. It was the second-highest-grossing film of 1999, taking about $293 million in the US and $379 million in other markets.


Malcolm Crowe, a child psychologist in Philadelphia, returns home one night with his wife Anna after having been honored for his work. A young man breaks into their house and accuses Malcolm of failing him. Malcolm recognizes him as Vincent Grey, a former patient he treated as a child for hallucinations. Before he can talk Vincent down, Vincent shoots him and then himself.

The next fall, Malcolm begins working with Cole Sear, a 9-year-old boy who reminds Malcolm of Vincent. Malcolm feels he must help him in order to rectify his failure and reconcile with his wife, who has become distant and cold. Cole's mother Lynn worries about his social skills, especially after seeing signs of physical harm. At a birthday party, Cole is cornered by bullies who lock him in a cupboard, causing him to violently scream in terror as if he is being attacked before passing out. Following this incident, Cole finally confides his secret to Malcolm: he sees ghosts walking around like the living, unaware that they are dead.

Malcolm thinks Cole is delusional and considers dropping his case. After listening to an audiotape from a session with Vincent, Malcolm hears a weeping man begging for help in Spanish and realizes that the ghosts Cole sees are real. He suggests that Cole try to find a purpose for his gift by communicating with the ghosts and helping them finish their business. Cole is unwilling at first, but agrees to try to help.

Cole awakens one night to discover a ghost girl vomiting. After finding out who she is, Cole goes with Malcolm to the funeral reception at her home. Cole is directed to a box holding a videotape, which he gives to the ghost girl's father. The tape shows the girl's mother poisoning her daughter's food. By doing this, Cole saves the girl's younger sister from the same fate.

Learning to not be spooked by ghosts, Cole begins to fit in at school and is cast as the lead in the school play. Before departing, Cole suggests that Malcolm should try speaking to Anna while she is asleep. Stuck in traffic, Cole tells his mother his secret, and says that someone died in an accident down the road. When Lynn does not believe him, Cole tells her his grandmother visits him and describes how she saw Lynn in a dance performance when she was a child, giving details he could not have known.

Malcolm returns home to find his wife asleep and their wedding video playing. Talking in her sleep, Anna asks why he left her and drops Malcolm's wedding ring. Recalling what Cole told him about how dead people see only what they want to see, Malcolm starts to see things he did not see earlier. He recalls being shot and locates his gunshot wound and he discovers that he died that night from the wound and has been dead the entire time he was working with Cole. Malcolm tells his wife she was never second to anything and that he loves her. Because of Cole's efforts, Malcolm's business is finally complete, and his spirit departs in a flash of light.



St. Augustine's Church in Philadelphia was used as a filming location

David Vogel, then-president of production of Walt Disney Studios, read Shyamalan's spec script and loved it. Without obtaining corporate approval, Vogel bought the rights, despite the price of $3 million and the stipulation that Shyamalan could direct the film.[4] Disney dismissed Vogel from his position at the studio, and Vogel left company shortly thereafter.[5] Disney sold the production rights to Spyglass Entertainment, while retaining the distribution rights and 12.5% of the film's box office takings.[6]

During the casting process for the role of Cole Sear, Shyamalan had been apprehensive about Osment's video audition, saying later he was "this really sweet cherub, kind of beautiful, blond boy". Shyamalan saw the role as darker and more brooding but felt that Osment "nailed it with the vulnerability and the need ... He was able to convey a need as a human being in a way that was amazing to see."[7]

Willis was cast in the role of Malcolm Crow as part of a deal to compensate the studio for Willis's role in the implosion of Broadway Brawler the year before.[8][9]

The color red is 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"[10] and "to connote really explosively emotional moments and situations".[11] 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.[citation needed]

All the clothes Malcolm wears are items he wore or touched the evening before his death, including 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." The filmmakers initially feared this would be too much of a giveaway, but left it in.[12]

Location filming took place mostly in streets and buildings of Philadelphia, notable at St. Augustine's Church on 4th and New Streets in Old City and on Saint Albans Street in Southwest Center City.[13]

Marisa Tomei was considered for the role of Lynn Sear.[14]

Michael Cera auditioned for the role of Cole Sear,[15] and Liam Aiken was offered the role but turned it down.[16]


Home media[edit]

After a six-month online promotion campaign,[17] The Sixth Sense was released on VHS and DVD by Hollywood Pictures Home Video on March 28, 2000. It would go on to become the top-selling DVD of 2000, with more than 2.5 million units shipped, as well as the top video rental title of all-time.[18]


Box office[edit]

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 number 1 film at the U.S. box office becoming only the second film after Titanic (1997) to have grossed more than $20 million a weekend for five weekends.[1][19] It earned $293,506,292 in the United States and Canada 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.[20] Box Office Mojo estimates that the film sold over 57.5 million tickets in the US.[21] In the United Kingdom, it was given at first a limited release on nine screens, and entered at No. 8 before climbing up to No. 1 the next week with 430 theatres playing the film.[22][23] It had a record opening in the Netherlands.[24]

Critical response[edit]

The Sixth Sense received positive reviews;[25] Osment in particular was widely praised for his performance.[26] On the review aggregator website, Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 86% based on reviews from 158 critics, with an average rating of 7.70/10. The site's critical consensus reads: "M. Night Shyamalan's The Sixth Sense is a twisty ghost story with all the style of a classical Hollywood picture, but all the chills of a modern horror flick."[27] Metacritic rated it 64 out of 100 based on 35 reviews, meaning "generally favorable reviews".[28] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "A-" on an A+ to F scale.[29]

By vote of the members of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, The Sixth Sense was awarded the Nebula Award for Best Script during 1999.[30] The film was No. 71 on Bravo's 100 Scariest Movie Moments, for the scene where Cole encounters a female ghost in his tent. It was named the 89th best American film of all time in a 2007 poll by the American Film Institute.

The line "I see dead people" from the film became a popular catchphrase after its release, scoring No. 44 on AFI's 100 Years...100 Movie Quotes.

The Sixth Sense also scored 60th place on AFI's 100 Years...100 Thrills, honoring America's most "heart pounding movies".


The Sixth Sense has received numerous awards and nominations, with Academy Award nomination categories ranging from those honoring the film itself (Best Picture), to its writing, editing, and direction (Best Director, Best Editing, and Best Original Screenplay), to its cast's performance (Best Supporting Actor and Best Supporting Actress). Especially lauded was the supporting role of actor Haley Joel Osment, whose nominations include an Academy Award,[31] a Broadcast Film Critics Association Award,[32] and a Golden Globe Award.[33] Overall, The Sixth Sense was nominated for six Academy Awards and four British Academy Film Awards, but won none.[31][34] The film received three nominations from the People's Choice Awards and won all of them, with lead actor Bruce Willis being honored for his role.[35] The Satellite Awards nominated the film in four categories, with awards being received for writing (M. Night Shyamalan) and editing (Andrew Mondshein).[36] Supporting actress Toni Collette was nominated for both an Academy Award and a Satellite award for her role in the film.[31][36] James Newton Howard was honored by the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers for his composition of the music for the film.[37]

In 2013, the Writers Guild of America ranked the screenplay #50 on its list of 101 Greatest Screenplays ever written.[38]

Year-end lists[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "The Sixth Sense (1999)". Box Office Mojo. Archived from the original on January 20, 2013. Retrieved December 27, 2012.
  2. ^ Ganz, Jami. "M. Night Shyamalan says 'The Sixth Sense' isn't a horror film". New York Daily News. Archived from the original on January 31, 2020. Retrieved January 31, 2020.
  3. ^ Howard, Michael (August 8, 2014). "Why The Sixth Sense Ending Has Never Been Matched". Esquire. Archived from the original on February 20, 2018. Retrieved August 13, 2018.
  4. ^ Weiner, Allison Hope (June 2, 2008). "Shyamalan's Hollywood Horror Story, With Twist". The New York Times. Archived from the original on December 30, 2014. Retrieved December 30, 2014.
  5. ^ Bart, Peter (July 2, 2012). "Moguls make switch after power turns off: Is there life after Hollywood?". Variety. Chicago Tribune. Archived from the original on December 30, 2014. Retrieved December 30, 2014.
  6. ^ Stewart, James B. (2005). DisneyWar: The Battle for the Magic Kingdom. New York: Simon & Schuster
  7. ^ ""I Wasn't Bluffing": M. Night Shyamalan Recalls 'Sixth Sense' Pitch and Frenzy That Followed". The Hollywood Reporter. Archived from the original on August 4, 2019. Retrieved August 6, 2019.
  8. ^ Brew, Simon (February 24, 2020). "The three films that Bruce Willis was cornered into having to make". Film Stories. Retrieved September 27, 2021.
  9. ^ Fleming, Mike Jr. (October 5, 2010). "Bruce Willis In Drama Deal For Pal Joe Roth". Deadline. Retrieved September 27, 2021.
  10. ^ Screenwriter/director M. Night Shyamalan, "Rules and Clues" bonus featurette on the DVD.
  11. ^ Producer Barry Mendel, "Rules and Clues" bonus featurette on the DVD.
  12. ^ Producer Frank Marshall, "Rules and Clues" bonus featurette on the DVD.
  13. ^ "The Sixth Sense (1999) Filming Locations". The Movie District. Archived from the original on October 30, 2019. Retrieved October 30, 2019.
  14. ^ Cormier, Roger (August 6, 2016). "15 Twisted Facts About The Sixth Sense". Mental Floss. Archived from the original on January 22, 2019. Retrieved November 10, 2017.
  15. ^ Jones, Chris (June 18, 2019). "Michael Cera: What I've Learned". Esquire. Archived from the original on January 7, 2018. Retrieved July 26, 2021.
  16. ^ Hill, Logan (December 2, 2004). "Unfortunate Son". New York Magazine. Archived from the original on June 27, 2021. Retrieved July 26, 2021.
  17. ^ "The Secrets of the Sixth Sense". Buena Vista Home Entertainment. Archived from the original on October 16, 2000. Retrieved November 8, 2018.
  18. ^ 2000 Annual Report (Report). The Walt Disney Company. 2001.
  19. ^ "Variety's Summer Cup: Milestones". Daily Variety. September 8, 1999. p. A1.
  20. ^ "The Sixth Sense – Box Office Data". Archived from the original on August 3, 2018. Retrieved March 9, 2008.
  21. ^ "The Sixth Sense (1999)". Box Office Mojo. Archived from the original on August 4, 2016. Retrieved May 31, 2016.
  22. ^ "United Kingdom Box Office Returns for the weekend starting 5 November 1999". Internet Movie Database. Archived from the original on October 31, 2015. Retrieved January 27, 2008.
  23. ^ "United Kingdom Box Office Returns for the weekend starting 12 November 1999". Internet Movie Database. Archived from the original on October 31, 2015. Retrieved January 27, 2008.
  24. ^ Groves, Don (December 3, 2001). "O'seas B.O. rises to wizard's wand". Variety. p. 15.
  25. ^ Natale, Richard (August 9, 1999). "'Sense' Shows Its Powers". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on April 18, 2015. Retrieved April 8, 2015.
  26. ^ King, Susan (August 13, 1999). "Actor Has a Sense for Spooky Role". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on April 18, 2015. Retrieved April 8, 2015.
  27. ^ "The Sixth Sense (1999)". Rotten Tomatoes. Archived from the original on October 30, 2014. Retrieved February 15, 2021.
  28. ^ "The Sixth Sense". Metacritic. Archived from the original on August 11, 2014. Retrieved October 28, 2014.
  29. ^ "CinemaScore". Archived from the original on September 16, 2017. Retrieved November 28, 2021.
  30. ^ "Nebula Awards Winners by Category". Locus. Archived from the original on December 4, 2014. Retrieved October 28, 2014.
  31. ^ a b c "The Sixth Sense – 1999 Academy Awards Profile". Box Office Mojo. Archived from the original on July 19, 2010. Retrieved December 23, 2010.
  32. ^ Ellen A. Kim (December 22, 1999). "Another Day, Another Movie Award". Archived from the original on January 25, 2013. Retrieved December 23, 2010.
  33. ^ "The Sixth Sense". Hollywood Foreign Press Association. Archived from the original on September 29, 2006. Retrieved December 23, 2010.
  34. ^ "Awards Database". British Academy Film Awards. Archived from the original on May 26, 2012. Retrieved December 23, 2010.
  35. ^ "'Sixth Sense' tops People's Choice Awards". Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Associated Press. January 10, 2000. Retrieved December 23, 2010.[permanent dead link]
  36. ^ a b "2000 4th Annual SATELLITE Awards". International Press Academy. Archived from the original on January 6, 2010. Retrieved December 23, 2010.
  37. ^ Don Heckman (April 27, 2000). "Howard, Donen Honored by ASCAP". Los Angeles Times.
  38. ^ Savage, Sophia (February 27, 2013). "WGA Lists Greatest Screenplays, From 'Casablanca' and 'Godfather' to 'Memento' and 'Notorious'". Archived from the original on May 2, 2020. Retrieved June 9, 2017.

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