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M3GAN Director Gerard Johnstone 'Just Kind Of Snuck' That Iconic Dance Scene Into The Movie

January may not traditionally be the time of year that gets most movie fans excited, but 2023 has clearly changed that notion. January 6 saw the release of Blumhouse Productions' "M3GAN." The latest horror offering from "Malignant" writer Akela Cooper,  "M3GAN" tells the story of a robotics engineer (Allison Williams) who uses a lifelike artificial intelligence doll to befriend her niece (Violet McGraw), only for the doll to get carried away with its overprotective nature, embarking on a killing spree. With an engaging premise, relevant commentary on our relationship with technology, and horror master James Wan co-writing the story and acting as a producer, "M3GAN" garnered a good amount of hype from movie fans who expected nothing less than a campy good time. 

As exciting as the premise is and the talent involved, what really got people interested is a viral moment that has dominated social media for month. A key moment from the film's trailer received the most attention, going on to practically define the film. The marketing for "M3GAN" features the titular uncanny doll performing an elaborate dance before killing her next victim. The dance became an online sensation, spreading throughout social media like wildfire. An instant meme, the dance sequence's absurdity has taken on a life of its own. 

It may seem that the now-iconic moment is nothing more but a hilariously out-of-place moment in an otherwise seemingly serious film, but director Gerard Johnstone and the team behind the Blumhouse pic are more into the joke than audiences might expect. 

Johnstone is glad that fans have embraced the off-kilter moment

Busting a move before committing murder may not be a traditional horror scene, but it was nevertheless an idea that the team behind "M3GAN" chose to run with. The widespread appeal of the quirky moment has not only helped further spread the word of the horror film, but has thoroughly pleased all those involved. 

In an interview with toofab, director Gerard Johnstone admitted that he "just kind of snuck" the scene into the film and is glad that it went over so well with audiences. "To their credit, I think everyone embraced it," he explained. "I thought it was one of those ideas you come up with when you just haven't had enough sleep. It just felt like this is the kind of fun we need." Additionally, he has enjoyed seeing the online discussion surrounding the dance as well, saying, "It's so relieving to see, even before the movie comes out, that even in the trailer people love it, so that was really cool." 

While speaking with Insider, screenwriter Akela Cooper praised Johnstone for adding value to M3GAN's terrifying nature by adding the dance sequence. "I didn't write M3gan dancing; I wrote her on a killing spree," Cooper said. "When I saw it, I thought, 'This is so weird, but it works. That makes the death all the more uncomfortable.'"

Allison Williams, who both stars in and executive produced the film, told Entertainment Weekly that the team had their own strategy to make the dance scene a viral sensation. "We had internally come up with memes to distribute, but we didn't end up needing to deploy them, because people started making their own," the "Get Out" star explained. "You can't even dream that big when you're doing something like this. That was just such an exciting day. It was proof of concept."

The dance sequence almost wasn't in the trailer

Marketing "M3GAN" with the dance sequence clearly paid dividends as the film went on to make a whopping $30 million domestically during its opening weekend (via The Numbers). How much of "M3GAN's" box office glory can be attributed to the viral nature of the dance sequence? It's hard to quantify but take to social media and viewers will find thousands of memes and fancams of M3GAN, with the dance sequence dominating the conversation. It's hard imagining the buzz surrounding the film being so loud if the dance sequence wasn't in the trailer. 

While speaking with The Hollywood Reporter, Allison Williams admitted that the film's creatives were unsure if the moment deserved to be in the trailer. "When we saw the first cut of the trailer, we were all hemming and hawing about whether or not to let the dance be out in the trailer or try to keep it as a surprise in the movie," the executive producer revealed. Now that the film has already become one of the most iconic offerings of 2023, Williams is grateful that the moment was kept in the film's  marketing to preach the chaos of M3GAN. "And boy, the forces of marketing at Universal were right to keep it in the trailer, because it just helped, honestly."