Shyamalan defects from Disney to Warner Bros. -- After four movies at Disney, the ''Village'' filmmaker has found a new distributor for his next thriller, ''Lady in the Water''

By Gary Susman
Updated March 24, 2005 at 05:00 AM EST

M. Night Shyamalan’s movies, from The Sixth Sense to The Village, have earned hundreds of millions of dollars for Disney, but the studio has passed on his latest project. According to the Hollywood Reporter, the filmmaker will make his next chiller, called Lady in the Water, for Warner Bros. instead. According to the Reporter, it’s the story of an apartment building’s superintendent who finds a sea nymph swimming in the building’s pool. (Daryl Hannah, call your agent.)

After the completion of The Village, Shyamalan was halfway through his current two-picture first-look deal with Disney (meaning the studio had the right accept or reject his projects before he shopped them to anyone else). Why, after four Shyamalan movies, did Disney dump Lady? Was it because Village failed to reach the lofty box-office heights of The Sixth Sense and Signs? Talking to the Reporter, a Disney spokesperson said, ”We have a terrific relationship with Night, and although we didn’t agree creatively on this particular project, we look forward to working with him in the future.”

Warners, however, was happy to snap him up. ”I hope that it is the first of many outstanding films that Night makes at our studio,” studio president Alan Horn said in a statement. For his part, Shyamalan said in a statement, ”Lady in the Water is a personal movie with a big idea, and it seems just perfect for Warner Bros. I’m thrilled they responded to the story, and we all can’t wait to get started.” The film will shoot in August on location in Philadelphia, where Shyamalan has shot all his movies, with an eye toward a release date of July 21, 2006.