Cash-Machine Manoj Saves His Best Twist Ending For Last

The day after DreamWorks was deported to the Asian Subcontinent was a bittersweet one around town — unless you're Steven Spielberg, we guess, who is a few signatures away from finally sticking it to Viacom, or maybe if you're CAA, which had previously wooed the Works' deep-pocketed Indian investors at Reliance ADA to throw money at projects for George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Tom Hanks, Nicolas Cage, Jim Carrey and a few of the agency's other heavy hitters.

Or especially if you're Manoj Night Shyamalan, who caught nothing but holy hell for a month leading up to the release of The Happening only to nab almost $70 million worldwide in less than a week of release. As we noted yesterday, he and Fox had their own funding deal with backers at India's UTV, but the lucrative terms buried today in Variety's DreamWorks coverage make Manoj's Folly suddenly look like Manoj's Mint:

Under that arrangement, Shyamalan traded his first-dollar gross participation for 25% ownership of the pic's copyright and a cash break arrangement that allows him to share 50% of the film's revenue stream once UTV and Fox recoup budget and P&A costs. After a strong opening weekend, that deal looks like it could pay off for Shyamalan, who brought the film in at about $50 million.

We've seen this before, of course, with the Holy Trinity of Spielberg/Lucas/Ford most recently pulling down low eight figures after Indy 4's opening-weekend windfall. But Manoj! You player! A Nickelodeon movie hardly seems an appropriate follow-up; may we suggest instead a psychological thriller about a vacationing American family on the run from a mysterious epidemic, later discovered to be brought on by — SPOILER ALERT! — the exotic money trees wreaking cultural havoc around them. Too personal? Too soon? Fine — just as long as you don't start making us call you A.T.M. Night Shyamalan, we'll trust your judgment henceforth.

[Photo Credit: Getty Images]