Universal/Blumhouse’s darkly comedic horror film “M3GAN” has exceeded all expectations with a $30 million opening weekend from 3,509 theaters, providing critical support for the box office in the month ahead as Disney/20th Century’s “Avatar: The Way of Water” continues its push to a $2 billion global total.

Directed by Gerald Johnstone and co-produced by James Wan and his Atomic Monster Productions, “M3GAN” hit theaters with surprisingly strong reviews, earning a 94% Rotten Tomatoes score as critics praised the film’s mix of scares, dark humor and knowingly absurd tone.

As a result, the film caught the attention of horror buffs and younger moviegoers, with 62% of the film’s opening weekend crowd coming from the 18-35 demographic and 53% being female. Audience metrics were fairly positive with a B on CinemaScore and a 79% Rotten Tomatoes audience score, consistent with most horror titles.

Prior to opening weekend, “M3GAN” had been projected for an opening weekend of $17-22 million, which would have been enough to ensure profitability against the film’s $12 million budget. Instead, “M3GAN” is now the first horror film to earn an opening of at least $30 million since the critically panned “The Devil Inside” in 2012 and could potentially leg out to a $90-100 million domestic total if word-of-mouth keeps spreading.

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