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Universal's 'M3GAN' dances past box office projections for killer $30+ million opening weekend

She's our friend 'till the end!

By Josh Weiss
M3GAN (2023)

M3GAN has officially proved herself capable of slaughtering box office projections, as well as her human creators.

The killer doll at the heart of Universal Pictures' new techno-thriller — now playing in theaters everywhere — has racked up a killer $30.2 million in North American ticket sales, blowing past early estimates of a $17-$20 million domestic debut, confirms Variety. Interestingly, M3GAN and Nope (the latter is now streaming on Peacock) are the only two science fiction horror flicks since 2017 to make over $30 million in their opening weekends.

That impressive figure is just $15 million shy of James Cameron's Avatar: The Way of Water, which nabbed an additional $45 million in its third theatrical frame. With $14.8 million internationally, the James Wan and Blumhouse-produced M3GAN is well on its way to $50 million worldwide. Not too shabby for something made on a modest budget of $12 million (via TheWrap).

"It is fitting that a horror movie kicks January into high gear as Universal's M3GAN over-performs with a scarily impressive $30.2 million debut," Paul Dergarabedian, Senior Media Analyst at Comscore, tells SYFY WIRE. "Universal's long-term strategy of offering moviegoers a diverse portfolio of films — including action, comedy, family, and, of course, horror — continues to bear fruit at the box office. The scares, chills, and thrills felt by a group of strangers in a darkened movie theater have resonated strongly with audiences looking for a unique (and fun) outside-of-the-home viewing experience — and this film carries on the time-honored tradition. Great reviews and the continued fascination by audiences with creepy out-of-control manmade creations made M3GAN a huge hit this weekend."

Written by Akela Cooper (Malignant) and directed by Gerard Johnstone (Housebound) the film serves as a cautionary tale of wayward AI technology run amok. When pioneering toy company roboticist Gemma (Get Out's Allison Williams) pairs her recently-orphaned niece (The Haunting of Hill House's Violet McGraw) with a state-of-the-art robotic companion capable of sentient thought, she unintentionally sets off a bloody chain of events that cannot be undone.

Ronny Chieng (Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings), Brian Jordan Alvarez (Will & Grace), Jen Van Epps (Cowboy Bebop), Lori Dungey (The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, extended edition), and Stephane Garneau-Monten (Straight Forward) round out the cast. Amie Donald provided the body movements for M3GAN, with Jenna Davis on voiceover duties.

Williams was an executive producer on the movie alongside Mark Katchur (Whiplash), Ryan Turek (Halloween Ends), Michael Clear (Malignant), Judson Scott (The Curse of La Llorona), Adam Hendricks (Black Christmas), and Greg Gilreath (Vengeance).

Rocking a near-perfect score of 94 percent on Rotten Tomatoes, M3GAN is now playing in theaters everywhere.

Want another killer doll fix? Stream the first season of Chucky on Peacock.