Hindsight may be 20/20, but the producer jason blum I didn’t need the luxury of time to see that.”M3GAN”, a horror film about an evil robot-like doll, was destined for success.

So much so, that Blum did something he had never done in his nearly 30-year career: He publicly admitted his desire make a sequel before the movie was released in theaters. He was just sure audiences would instantly fall in love with M3GAN, short for Model 3 Generative Android, whose chaotic dance moves, one-liners, and killer tendencies made her an internet icon as soon as Universal dropped the first trailer.

“We broke our fundamental rule,” he says. “I felt so optimistic that we started entertaining a sequel earlier than we usually do.”

And sure enough, “M3GAN” swept the box office in early January, shattering expectations with its $30 million debut. So far, it has already generated $50 million globally. Priced at $12 million, the film’s backers — Universal, Blum’s company Blumhouse Productions and producer James Wan’s Atomic Monster — are poised to reap big rewards.

Gerard Johnstone directed the well-reviewed film, which centers on a brilliant roboticist (played by Allison Williams) who builds a realistic AI creation programmed to be the perfect companion for her recently orphaned niece. After her spectacular debut, Blum spoke with variety about making M3GAN a viral star and why he needs a follow-up movie.

As I understand it, James Wan came up with the idea for M3GAN. How did you end up involved?

James Wan and Atomic Monster came up with the idea and I was lucky they brought it to us. We did the preparation together for a long period of time. One of the hardest things was figuring out what M3GAN would look like and how it would work. I give a lot of credit to Gerard for realizing that.

How was M3GAN first described to you?

AI gone wrong… that was the first launch for me.

It’s a combination of live acting and CGI. How did you initially envision the character?

Gerard was incredibly focused on it. At times, he drove everyone crazy. I look back now, and I’m thankful that he did. The smallest details of what his eyes would look like and his gaze… he was obsessed. A big part of the success of the movie is that she’s kind of a human and kind of a robot.

Universal Pictures/Courtesy Everett Collection

Is it difficult to achieve the uncanny valley aesthetic? M3GAN has clearly resonated, but there are high-profile examples – “Cats” comes to mind: where the public really rejected it.

The way landing is set up is that you don’t start setting up your movie until you know exactly every detail of what M3GAN is going to look like, how you’re going to shoot it. We’ve made mistakes in the past where we have some kind of monster in a movie and we start preparing before the monster is resolved. We learned from those mistakes, so I didn’t want to spend any money on the movie until we knew exactly how we were going to make M3GAN. Special effects go awry when they’re rushed.

How important is it to find the right name for a character like M3GAN?

The title treatment was from Atomic Monster. It came to us with that title, with 3 for “e”. All is important. When you get something to connect with the culture, it’s very complicated. It happens so rarely. Every detail matters. You never know what really did it, but the title certainly played a part.

To that point, as hard as they may try, I don’t know if the studios can engineer a hit. But M3GAN makes a pretty good argument to the contrary. Did you know it would be such an instant sensation?

I agree that you can’t engineer a coup. By the time you start trying it, the audience smells it and it doesn’t work. No one involved in the film thought that the dance sequence was going to go viral. And I think if you were to orchestrate a dance sequence in a movie to go viral, you would fall on your face.

Horror has a reputation for resonating more with audiences than critics. Has the quality barometer changed at all?

It used to be that you can open a movie, even if the movie isn’t that great, with great marketing. But more than ever for the theater, you need a great movie. Y great marketing, or it won’t work. It has changed over time, but really in the last 10 years with social media and Rotten Tomatoes, as the transfer of information has accelerated. It used to be word of mouth, you had three or four days before people would talk to each other about a movie. Now you have three or four minutes.

Horror has been on a box office hot streak. What does the genre need to function theatrically?

Horror has always been a reliable genre. I am happy to say that today is no different. It seems to have received the least success of all the genres. The key is what “M3GAN” is, a fun playable movie that people like. And you need to have great marketing for people to see it.

Part of the reason his movies are so successful is because he keeps budgets low. Is that necessary these days for original theatrical movies?

I’ve always been a big believer that movies are better when they cost less. When you reduce budgets, you make better creative decisions. It’s hard to do. When budgets increase, commercial pressures to please everyone dilute the narrative.

How long do you think “M3GAN” should play in theaters before moving to premium video-on-demand?

I don’t know, because I don’t think a theater window is one size fits all. I definitely believe in an extended exclusive theatrical window. It is the best way to monetize movie distribution.

January can be unpredictable at the box office. Why did you decide to release “M3GAN” this month?

The first week of the year is great for horror because there are a lot of adult movies at Christmas, so [audiences] they are ready for something fun and less serious.

Would “M3GAN” have been as successful at the box office without its PG-13 rating?

The film plays younger. People have said that young people have stopped going to the movies, and I think “M3GAN” shows that they haven’t as long as you give them the right kind of movie.

Is M3GAN bringing something new to the killer doll genre?

Probably his attitude. And the fact that technology is at the center of the film makes it all very contemporary.

Why do you think M3GAN has become a gay icon?

We just hoped people would find M3GAN fun and scary, but the icon wasn’t in my wildest dreams. I’m excited to see it.

You have disguised yourself as M3GAN several times, even for Halloween. What is the best thing about embodying it?

The best part is the comfort of the dress and I think the sunglasses are pretty cool. Without a doubt the worst are the shoes.

How soon did you know that “M3GAN” would have a sequel?

After seeing the movie for the first time, we had a feeling that a sequel could really work. So, we broke our cardinal rule and started talking about a sequel before the movie was released. I felt so optimistic that we started entertaining a sequel earlier than usual.

M3GAN sings a heartbreaking rendition of Sia’s “Titanium” in this movie. Do you have any dream musical numbers for the sequel?

I do not. I’m going to leave that level of creativity to James Wan and other people on the film.

Will the sequel be titled “MEG4N”?

Too soon to tell!

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