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M3GAN becomes the year's 1st hit movie

The next great horror icon is here. 

The killer doll movie M3GAN, in which a child's singing and dancing robotic companion goes on a bloody rampage, is off to a surprisingly strong start at the box office. The film grossed $30.2 million domestically in its opening weekend after only being expected to make between $17 million and $20 million, meaning it has already more than doubled its reported $12 million production budget. 

The success is likely in no small part due to M3GAN becoming a viral sensation months prior to release. The film's trailer took off in a big way online thanks to a clip of M3GAN busting out a dance routine before her latest murder. The memes became ubiquitous, and Universal leaned into them with an impressive marketing campaign, including by bringing dancing M3GANs to football games and even having M3GAN conduct in-character interviews with news outlets and popular Twitter accounts

So M3GAN was an example of a film that likely received a box office boost from viral hype, similar to the way Minions: The Rise of Gru may have benefited from a trend of teenagers going to see it dressed in formal attire — though memes didn't save Sony's Morbius. But the key was that unlike MorbiusM3GAN genuinely satisfied critics and audiences. Reviews said the horror-comedy provided the exact kind of campy fun promised by the trailer, and audiences polled by CinemaScore gave M3GAN a solid B grade.

A sequel is sure to follow, so this opening likely means a new horror franchise has officially been born — and perhaps one day, Gen Z will get its own Freddy vs. Jason via an eventual Chucky vs. M3GAN.