M3GAN dances into a killer $30 million debut, Avatar 2 becomes 7th-highest global release

M3GAN and her viral, memefied dance moves made a killing at the box office during opening weekend.

Director Gerard Johnstone's M3GAN, centered on a murderous AI doll that develops self-awareness and becomes hostile to anyone who comes between her and her human companion, exceeded expectations at the domestic box office with a $30.2 million debut, per Comscore.

The film starring Allison Williams, Jenna Davis, Amie Donald, and Violet McGraw is the second sci-fi horror title to open to more than $30 million since 2017's Alien: Covenant ($36 million), followed behind last year's Nope ($44 million) from Jordan Peele. It grossed a worldwide total of $45 million.


Geoffrey Short/Universal Pictures 'M3GAN'

Johnstone told EW the shoot, which filmed at his native New Zealand, was quite challenging. "They talk about working with children and animals, and we did all of that plus, you know, animatronic puppets and god knows what else," the director said. "So, it was quite grueling, but ultimately those really tricky films produce good results."

As for the homicidal droid's instantaneous viral dance sequence, "It was one of those crazy, sleep-deprived, 3 a.m. thoughts," Johnstone said. "Wouldn't it kind of be funny if the soundtrack suddenly became real and M3GAN ended up busting a move to whatever music was playing. It was just something that everyone embraced and loved."

Still, robotic dolls are no match for the Naʼvi. James Cameron's Avatar sequel The Way of Water continued its reign at No. 1 and earned an additional $45 million this weekend, bringing the total to $516 million in North America. Notably, it's now the seventh-biggest global release of all time as it exceeds $1.7 billion, surpassing 2015's Jurassic World ($1.67 billion) and 2019's The Lion King ($1.66 billion).

Behind M3GAN in second place are Puss in Boots: The Last Wish and A Man Called Otto in third and fourth place. The Last Wish earned an additional $13 million at the domestic box office, bringing the total to $87 million, while the Tom Hanks comedy A Man Called Otto made an extra $4 million, bringing the total to $4.2 million. Black Panther: Wakanda Forever rounded out the top five with an additional $3.3 million, bringing the total to $445 million.

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