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The story behind M3GAN's iconic TikTok dance sequence

The producers and director of the new horror film M3GAN say the much-memed dancing moment came about organically. 

By James Grebey

If there was a moment when M3GAN went from “a fun-looking flick from all-star horror producers James Wan and Jason Blum” to “instant icon status,” it was in the first trailer when the killer A.I.-powered doll starts dancing. It’s an absurd bit of footage that makes M3GAN seem like it’s going to be something special, but although the person who cut together that trailer probably knew what they were doing when they included the dancing, Wan, Blum, and director Gerard Johnstone say the TikTok-esque dancing was a natural extension of the story and not a calculated plot for virality.

“That came organically,” Wan, producer and co-writer of M3GAN who also directed 2021’s Malignant, tells SYFY WIRE ahead of M3GAN’s Jan. 6 release. “Here’s the thing. You can’t really force something to go viral. When something latches on to the zeitgeist, it just does.”

In M3GAN, Allison Williams plays Gemma, a roboticist working for a toy company who decides to let her latest invention — the titular prototype robotic doll — do the bulk of the work raising her niece, Cady, who is unexpectedly in her custody following the deaths of the girl’s parents. M3GAN starts out as the best, most-perfect friend a girl could ask for, but it’s not too long before her super-smart A.I. keeps learning and comes to the conclusion that it, not Gemma, knows best. It’s this learning quality that M3GAN exhibits that helped lead to her dancing moment. 

“The story is about an A.I. android that learns, and the more time she spends with the little girl, the more human qualities she picks up. Dancing is just one of the things that Cady teaches M3GAN to do,” Wan says. “So of course M3GAN uses it in a sassy way just before she tries to kill someone.” 

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Johnstone adds that music was a big part of the decision, too. (In the trailer, M3GAN dances to a dark remix of Taylor Swift’s “It’s Nice to Have a Friend,” though it's to a different song in the film, which we won’t spoil here.)

“We were developing the script and we had already done a lot of bats**t crazy things in the movie up until that point, and I was just listening to this track that ends up in the movie and thinking, ‘Man, this is a really awesome track. How cool would it be if I could figure out some reason why M3GAN is dancing to this song?’” Johnstone recalls. “It was a way to take it to the next level. She uses it as a device to distract someone while she rips out a guillotine blade.”

Look, not to relitigate whether Chucky or M3GAN would win in a fight, but it’s clear that M3GAN would absolutely own in a dance battle. 

M3GAN opens in theaters this Friday, Jan. 6. 

Want another killer doll fix? Stream Chucky on Peacock.