The Happening (2008 film)
The Happening is an 2008 American apocalyptic film written, co-produced and directed by M. Night Shyamalan. It stars Mark Wahlberg and Zooey Deschanel. Production began in August 2007 in Philadelphia. The Happening will be released on Friday, June 13, 2008, deliberately planned to fall on Friday the 13th. In France and the French speaking part of Belgium it was released under the name Phénomènes (Phenomena) on Wednesday, June 11, 2008.
A pandemic of unknown cause is spreading across the northeast of the US, mysteriously within well-defined borders, with victims experiencing loss of speech and physical disorientation, followed by suicide: people jump from buildings, shoot or hang themselves, one feeds himself to lions in the zoo, some cut themselves with barbed wire or glass, etc. The protagonist, a science teacher named Elliot Moore (Mark Wahlberg), flees together with his estranged wife, Alma Moore (Zooey Deschanel) and the 8-year-old daughter Jess (Ashlyn Sanchez) of Elliot’s best friend, Julian (John Leguizamo), while Julian tries to reach his wife. The rest of the film follows them on their journey.
- Mark Wahlberg as Elliot Moore, a high school science teacher from Philadelphia
- Zooey Deschanel as Alma Moore, Elliot’s estranged wife
- John Leguizamo as Julian, a high school math teacher and Elliot’s friend
- Ashlyn Sanchez as Jess, Julian’s daughter
In January 2007, writer-director M. Night Shyamalan traveled from Philadelphia to Hollywood to prepare the live-action film based on Avatar: The Last Airbender. Shyamalan submitted a spec script entitled The Green Effect to various studios, but none expressed enough interest to purchase the script. The director collected ideas and notes from meetings, returning home to Philadelphia to rewrite the script, and 20th Century Fox greenlit the project. Now titled The Happening, the film will be produced by Shyamalan and Barry Mendel and will be the director’s first R-rated project. Shyamalan compared the film to the earlier paranoia films The Birds (1963) and Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956).
Later in March, actor Mark Wahlberg, with whom Shyamalan had been negotiating at the same time as his deal with Fox, was cast into the lead role of the $57 million project. Shyamalan had previously cast Wahlberg’s brother Donnie Wahlberg in The Sixth Sense. The India-based company UTV will co-finance 50% of the film’s budget and distribute the film in India, with Fox distributing in the rest of the territories. Production began in August in Philadelphia. The release date for The Happening is set for June 13, 2008, intentionally set for Friday the 13th to suit the thriller.