Sci-fi thriller 'M3GAN' brings techno-horror to Chinese screens

Science fiction horror film "M3GAN" hit Chinese movie theaters on Friday, following a thrilling premiere held in Beijing on Tuesday.

Performers dressed as the title character from "M3GAN" pose

for a photo at the movie's Chinese premiere in Beijing, March 14, 2023. [Photo courtesy of Universal Pictures]

Directed by Gerard Johnstone and produced by horror film master James Wan and Jason Blum, "M3GAN" tells the story of a brilliant robot engineer at a toy company who uses artificial intelligence to develop M3GAN, a lifelike doll designed to emotionally bond with her newly orphaned niece. But when the doll's programming works too well, she becomes overprotective of her new human friend with terrifying and bloody results. The film stars Allison Williams and Violet McGraw, while Amie Donald, a child actress and dancer from New Zealand, portrays M3GAN and Jenna Davis provides her voice.

The techno-horror film has achieved commercial and critical success since its debut in North America and other markets in December 2022, grossing over $172 million worldwide against a budget of $12 million, according to Box Office Mojo. It has been praised by critics for its campy blend of horror and humor, satirical elements, and performances.

Universal Pictures held a thrilling and creepy premiere for the film in Beijing, ratcheting up the tension for those in attendance. In the theater, several performers appeared dressed as the movie’s title character, and later danced the famous M3GAN routine that has gone viral on social media platforms such as TikTok around the world.

The idea for the film originated from Wan's Atomic Monster Productions, which was brainstorming stories and chose one about a killer doll. Although Wan's 2014 film "Annabelle" also involved a killer doll, he explained in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter: "Pretty much the concept is about embracing technology too much and relying too much on it. And what happens when technology runs amok. It's a commentary on the world we live in and it feels relevant."

Following the movie's success, a sequel titled "M3GAN 2.0" is reportedly scheduled for release on Jan. 17, 2025.