The Sixth Sense is a 1999 American psychological thriller film[2] written and directed by M. Night Shyamalan. It stars Bruce Willis as a child psychologist whose patient (Haley Joel Osment) claims he can see and talk to the dead.

The Sixth Sense
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 dates
  • August 2, 1999 (1999-08-02) (Prince Music Theater)
  • August 6, 1999 (1999-08-06) (United States)
Running time
108 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$40 million[1]
Box office$672.8 million[1]

Released by Buena Vista Pictures through its Hollywood Pictures label on August 6, 1999, The Sixth Sense received critical acclaim, with praise for the cast performances (particularly those of Willis, Osment, and Toni Collette), atmosphere, direction and surprise ending. 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.[3] The film established Shyamalan as a predominant thriller screenwriter/director and introduced the cinema public to his traits, most notably his affinity for twist endings.[4]

It was the second-highest-grossing film of 1999, behind Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace, making roughly $293 million in the US and $379 million in other markets.



In Philadelphia, child psychologist Malcolm Crowe is at home with wife Anna when Vincent Grey, a former patient Malcolm had treated, breaks into their house. Vincent accuses Malcolm of failing him before shooting Malcolm and then himself.

Months later, Malcolm has begun working with Cole Sear, a nine-year-old boy who reminds him of Vincent. He feels he must help Cole to rectify his failure to help Vincent and reconcile with Anna, who has become distant and cold and is suffering from depression. Cole's mother Lynn worries about him, especially after seeing mysterious signs of physical harm. At a birthday party, when bullies see that Cole is terribly scared of a cupboard, they lock him in there, causing him to scream in terror about someone seemingly inside with him. Following this, Cole finally confides to Malcolm that he sees dead people who walk around like the living do, unaware that they are dead.

Malcolm thinks Cole is schizophrenic and considers dropping his case. However, after listening to an audiotape from a session with Vincent, he hears a man begging for help in Spanish when Vincent is supposed to be alone in the room, suggesting that Vincent had the same ability. He realizes that Cole is telling the truth and suggests that he try to communicate with the ghosts and help them finish their business.

One night, Cole discovers Kyra Collins, a female child ghost, vomiting. He finds out who she is and goes with Malcolm to the funeral reception at her home. In her room, Kyra gives Cole a videotape that he hands to her father. The tape reveals Kyra's mother poisoning her food, alerting her father to the reality of her death and saving her younger sister from the same fate.

Now that Cole is doing better socially and personally, he tries out for and is given a lead part in the school play. He is coached by a ghost director and gives a masterful performance with Malcolm looking on. Before leaving, Cole suggests that Malcolm try speaking to Anna while she is asleep to ensure he can understand her better. While stuck in traffic, Cole tells Lynn his secret. When she does not believe him, he tells her that his late grandmother visits him and describes details from his mother's childhood that he could not have known. Shocked, Lynn finally accepts that her son has a special ability.

Malcolm returns home to find his wedding video playing and Anna talking in her sleep, asking Malcolm why he left her. Suddenly, she drops his wedding ring and he notices that it is not on his finger. Recalling what Cole told him about dead people only seeing what they want to see, Malcolm locates his gunshot injury and realizes that he did not survive being shot by Vincent and has been dead the entire time while working with Cole. Malcolm quickly comes to terms with the fact that he is a ghost, and tells Anna that she was never second to anything and that he loves her. Anna's face relaxes, indicating she is now at peace and can move on. Malcolm's business with both Anna and Cole is complete and his spirit departs in a flash of light.







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.[5] Disney dismissed Vogel from his position at the studio, and Vogel left the company shortly thereafter.[6] Disney sold the production rights to Spyglass Entertainment, while retaining the distribution rights and 12.5% of the film's box office takings.[7]

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."[8]

Willis was cast in the role of Malcolm Crowe as part of a deal to compensate the studio for Willis's role in the implosion of Broadway Brawler the year before.[9][10]

Marisa Tomei was considered for the role of Lynn Sear.[11]

Michael Cera auditioned for the role of Cole Sear,[12] and Liam Aiken was offered the role but turned it down.[13]


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

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"[14] and "to connote really explosively emotional moments and situations".[15] 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.[14]

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.[16]

Location filming took place mostly in streets and buildings of Philadelphia, including St. Augustine's Church on 4th and New Streets in Old City and on Saint Albans Street in Southwest Center City.[17]



The Sixth Sense was released on August 6, 1999, by Buena Vista Pictures Distribution. Buena Vista handled North American distribution while Spyglass Entertainment handled international sales. Buena Vista International acquired distribution rights in the United Kingdom, Latin America, Australia, and Singapore.[18]

Home media


After a six-month online promotion campaign,[19] The Sixth Sense was released on VHS and DVD by Hollywood Pictures Home Video on March 28, 2000. It went on to become the top-selling DVD of 2000, with more than 2.5 million units shipped, and the all-time second best-selling DVD title up until then, as well as the top video rental title of all-time.[20] The film generated at least $173,320,000 (equivalent to $307,000,000 in 2023) from the US home video market,[21] including $125,850,000 (equivalent to $223,000,000 in 2023) from VHS rentals in the US.[22]

In the United Kingdom, it was the third-most-watched film of 2003 on television, with 9 million viewers that year.[23]



Box office


The Sixth Sense had a production budget of approximately $40 million (plus $25 million for prints and advertising). During its opening weekend, the film grossed $26.6 million, making it the largest August opening weekend, surpassing The Fugitive (1993).[24] It would go on to hold this record for two years until it was overtaken by Rush Hour 2 in 2001.[25] The film 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 each for five weekends.[1][26] With a total gross of $29.2 million, The Sixth Sense set the record for having the largest Labor Day weekend gross until 2007 when it was surpassed by Halloween.[27] During Labor Day, it made $6.3 million, making it the biggest September Monday gross, holding that record until it was beaten by It in 2017.[28] It grossed $293,506,292 in the United States and Canada, surpassing The Empire Strikes Back as the tenth highest grossing film of all time in that market at the time.[29] Box Office Mojo estimates that the film sold over 57.5 million tickets in the US and Canada.[30]

In Europe, the film sold 37,124,510 tickets at the box office.[31] In the United Kingdom, it was given at first a limited release on nine screens, and entered at number 8 at the UK box office before climbing up to number one the following week with 430 theatres playing the film.[32][33] It had a record opening in the Netherlands.[34] It had a worldwide gross of $672,806,292, ranking it ninth on the list of worldwide box-office money earners at the time.[29][35]

Critical response

Haley Joel Osment and Toni Collette's performances garnered high critical acclaim and were nominated for Academy Awards for Best Supporting Actor and Best Supporting Actress, respectively.

The Sixth Sense received widespread critical acclaim, with Osment's performance receiving high praise in particular.[36] On the review aggregator website, Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 86% based on reviews from 162 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."[37] Metacritic rated it 64 out of 100 based on 35 reviews, meaning "generally favorable reviews".[38] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "A−" on an A+ to F scale.[39]

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.[40] 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 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,[41] a Golden Globe Award[42] and a Critics' Choice Movie Award.[43] Overall, The Sixth Sense was nominated for six Academy Awards and four British Academy Film Awards, but won none.[41][44] 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.[45] The Satellite Awards nominated the film in four categories, with awards being received for writing (M. Night Shyamalan) and editing (Andrew Mondshein).[46] Supporting actress Toni Collette was nominated for both an Academy Award and a Satellite Award for her role in the film.[41][46] James Newton Howard was honored by the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers for his composition of the music for the film.[47]

In 2013, the Writers Guild of America ranked the screenplay #50 on its list of 101 Greatest Screenplays ever written.[48]

American Film Institute lists


See also



  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 (November 30, 2019). "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. ^ Rinaldi, Ray Mark (March 27, 2000). "Crystal has a sixth sense about keeping overhyped, drawn-out Oscar broadcast lively". Off the Post-Dispatch. St. Louis Post-Dispatch. p. 27. Archived from the original on May 19, 2023. Retrieved May 19, 2023 – via  
  4. ^ 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.
  5. ^ 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.
  6. ^ 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.
  7. ^ Stewart, James B. (2005). DisneyWar: The Battle for the Magic Kingdom. New York: Simon & Schuster. ISBN 978-0743263818.
  8. ^ ""I Wasn't Bluffing": M. Night Shyamalan Recalls 'Sixth Sense' Pitch and Frenzy That Followed". The Hollywood Reporter. August 2, 2019. Archived from the original on August 4, 2019. Retrieved August 6, 2019.
  9. ^ Brew, Simon (February 24, 2020). "The three films that Bruce Willis was cornered into having to make". Film Stories. Retrieved September 27, 2021.
  10. ^ Fleming, Mike Jr. (October 5, 2010). "Bruce Willis In Drama Deal For Pal Joe Roth". Deadline. Retrieved September 27, 2021.
  11. ^ 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.
  12. ^ Jones, Chris (June 18, 2019). "Michael Cera: What I've Learned". Esquire. Archived from the original on January 7, 2018. Retrieved July 26, 2021.
  13. ^ Hill, Logan (December 2, 2004). "Unfortunate Son". New York Magazine. Archived from the original on June 27, 2021. Retrieved July 26, 2021.
  14. ^ a b Shyamalan, M. Night (director) (2000). The Sixth Sense (DVD) ("Rules and Clues" featurette). Hollywood Pictures Home Video. Retrieved December 20, 2023.
  15. ^ Mendel, Barry (producer) (2000). The Sixth Sense (DVD) ("Rules and Clues" featurette). Hollywood Pictures Home Video. Retrieved December 20, 2023.
  16. ^ Marshall, Frank (producer) (2000). The Sixth Sense (DVD) ("Rules and Clues" featurette). Hollywood Pictures Home Video. Retrieved December 20, 2023.
  17. ^ "The Sixth Sense (1999) Filming Locations". The Movie District. Archived from the original on October 30, 2019. Retrieved October 30, 2019.
  18. ^ Cox, Dan (October 1, 1998). "Spyglass has int'l 'Sense'". Variety.
  19. ^ The Secrets of the Sixth Sense. Buena Vista Home Entertainment. Archived from the original on October 16, 2000. Retrieved November 8, 2018.
  20. ^ 2000 Annual Report (PDF) (Report). The Walt Disney Company. 2001. Retrieved April 23, 2022.
  21. ^ "The Sixth Sense (1999)". JP's Box Office (in French). Retrieved April 23, 2022.
  22. ^ "Charts - Top Locations VHS" [Charts - Top Rental VHS]. JP's Box Office (in French). Retrieved April 23, 2022.
  23. ^ "UK Film Council Statistical Yearbook: Annual Review 2003/04" (PDF). UK Film Council. p. 71. Retrieved April 21, 2022 – via British Film Institute.
  24. ^ Wolk, Josh (August 9, 1999). "The Sixth Sense sets an August record". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved July 13, 2022.
  25. ^ Linder, Brian (August 7, 2001). "Weekend Box Office: Rush Hour Jams Theaters". IGN. Retrieved July 13, 2022.
  26. ^ "Variety's Summer Cup: Milestones". Daily Variety. September 8, 1999. p. A1.
  27. ^ "'Halloween' scares up a Labor Day box office record". The Orange County Register. September 3, 2007.
  28. ^ D'Alessandro, Anthony (September 12, 2017). "'It' Posts Record Monday For September With $8.8M". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved September 13, 2017.
  29. ^ a b Goodridge, Mike (March 31, 2000). "The Sixth Sense makes all-time top 10". Screen International. p. 33.
  30. ^ "The Sixth Sense (1999)". Box Office Mojo. Archived from the original on August 4, 2016. Retrieved May 31, 2016.
  31. ^ "The Sixth Sense". Lumiere. Retrieved April 23, 2022.
  32. ^ "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.
  33. ^ "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.
  34. ^ Groves, Don (December 3, 2001). "O'seas B.O. rises to wizard's wand". Variety. p. 15.
  35. ^ "Top Grossing Pictures Worldwide". Box Office Mojo. Archived from the original on November 19, 2000. Retrieved May 6, 2024.
  36. ^ 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.
  37. ^ "The Sixth Sense (1999)". Rotten Tomatoes. Archived from the original on October 30, 2014. Retrieved October 20, 2023.
  38. ^ "The Sixth Sense". Metacritic. Archived from the original on August 11, 2014. Retrieved October 28, 2014.
  39. ^ "CinemaScore". Archived from the original on September 16, 2017. Retrieved November 28, 2021.
  40. ^ "Nebula Awards Winners by Category". Locus. Archived from the original on December 4, 2014. Retrieved October 28, 2014.
  41. ^ a b c "1999 Academy Awards". April 22, 2015. Retrieved December 20, 2023.
  42. ^ "The Sixth Sense". Hollywood Foreign Press Association. Archived from the original on September 29, 2006. Retrieved December 23, 2010.
  43. ^ Kim, Ellen A. (December 22, 1999). "Another Day, Another Movie Award". Archived from the original on January 25, 2013. Retrieved December 23, 2010.
  44. ^ "Film in 2000". British Academy Film Awards. Retrieved December 20, 2023.
  45. ^ Snow, Shauna (January 10, 2000). "People's Choices: Sandler, Willis and 'The Sixth Sense'". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved December 20, 2023.
  46. ^ a b "2000 4th Annual SATELLITE Awards". International Press Academy. Archived from the original on January 6, 2010. Retrieved December 23, 2010.
  47. ^ Heckman, Don (April 27, 2000). "Howard, Donen Honored by ASCAP". Los Angeles Times.
  48. ^ 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.
  49. ^ "100 Years...100 Thrills". Retrieved December 20, 2023.
  50. ^ "100 Years...100 Quotes". Retrieved December 20, 2023.
  51. ^ "100 Years...100 Movies (10th Anniversary Edition)". Retrieved December 20, 2023.