M3GAN would you get if I robot came with an American Doll skin and someone forgot to update their zero law(Opens in a new tab) coded. The pint-sized slasher is a crude robot with a continuously learning AI whose primary directive is to kill anyone who even thinks to take him away from his bestie child. Screenwriter Akela Cooper (cleverThe nun II) never predicted that its screenplay about a grieving little girl would be a massive box office hit, let alone end up with a PG-13 rating — a rare rating for horror movies.
Directed by Gerard Johnstone (Confined at home), with a screenplay by Cooper based on a story by Cooper and James Wan, M3GAN revolves around Gemma (Allison Williams), an engineer at a tech toy company who uses a life-size android called M3GAN to help care for her orphaned niece Cady (Violet McGraw).
In February, the cinema cut and the unrated version were streamed on Peacock’s streaming service. Both versions have the same storyline, but the unrated version increases the screen violence, profanity, and blood loss.
According to Cooper, the unrated version is how she, Wan, and Johnstone originally envisioned the film, though she’s thrilled with the response from young fans to the creepy doll thriller. “Teenagers deserve horror too, so I’m glad a robust teenage audience is interested. [the film]”, Cooper told Mashable. “More kids are going to watch it with their families.”
How have TikTok’s teens changed M3GAN?
Credit: Geoffrey Short/Universal Pictures
When the first official trailer abandoned for M3GAN in October 2022, it exploded on social media, especially with teenagers. This is precisely what you want if you don’t have a Disney budget to promote your movie. However, this presented an unexpected problem.
“Once the first trailer came out, it got such a huge response from the teens in the TikTok community. Universal said, ‘There’s your audience,'” Cooper said, “[but] technically, they can’t go see R-rated movies.” To rework the film for the younger demo, the team went back to the editing room and eventually took some reshoots.
Meanwhile, everything from memes and remixes to cosplay and M3GANs the iconic side eye exploded on social media as the marketing team went into overdrive. The character got her own Twitter account so she could comment Elon Musk, training with horror cousin Chucky(Opens in a new tab) and even scary slip in DMs to promote the release of the film.
Viral marketing is one thing, but profits are another. M3GAN delivered in large, pulling in over $170 million worldwide(Opens in a new tab) against its $12 million budget, making its theatrical release the fifth highest-grossing film released in 2023 so far(Opens in a new tab).
Despite the theatrical release 93% rating on Rotten Tomatoes(Opens in a new tab), Cooper has been pretty vocal about the unclassified cut being the version she really prefers. “When I got the call [about the rating change]my response was, “Will there be an unrated version, like on Blu-ray?” “, Cooper said. On February 24, the screenwriter got her wish when the unrated version of M3GAN abandoned on Peacock in the United States.
What is the difference between the unrated version of M3GAN when it hits theaters?
One of the few criticisms of the theatrical release was that M3GAN took us to the threshold of bloody violence but never quite crossed it. In the unrated version, we see most of the M3GAN kills on screen in all their glory. For example, in the theatrical version, when M3GAN fights back against a bully to protect Cady and rips her ear off her head, we only see the consequences. In the unrated version, we witness the boy’s cartilage stretching and tearing into a gooey, visceral mess.(Opens in a new tab)
In one of the most creative uses of a pressure washer in a horror movie, M3GAN uses the household tool to ward off nosy neighbor Celia (Lori Dungey) – after using a nail gun to hold her down. place. The unrated version goes further, showing the flesh peeling off the victim’s face. “I was happy Celia’s face was back,” Cooper said of the unrated cut. “I thought it was a cool effect… I was sad to see him go.”
David (Ronny Chieng) runs, but he can’t hide.
Credit: Geoffrey Short/Universal Pictures
The scene whose unrated version had the most impact was the film’s climax, when M3GAN kills Gemma’s boss, David (Ronny Chieng). The unrated version trades David’s relatively bloodless death by a manual letter opener for a much bloodier version.
“David’s death is so much cooler now that you can see it all,” Cooper continued. Plus, M3GAN throws out a few more swears herself, saving a particular F-bomb for her final fight with Gemma. “That one was hilarious,” Cooper said.
Why are the two versions so similar?
The first thing most viewers will notice about the two versions of M3GAN is that there is little difference between the PG-13 version and the unrated version. Despite Cooper’s preference for a bloodier version, there are only minor differences between the theatrical release of PG-13 and the original cut of the film. That’s why the screenwriter pleaded for the unrated version, to offer the most faithful representation of the filmmakers’ intended vision.
“It wasn’t that hard in R to start with, so they didn’t have to [reshoot] a lot,” Cooper explained. “But I’ll never understand why PG-13 movies can only have a maximum of two ‘fucks,'” she lamented, “so I’m glad they’re from back in there.”
With the resounding success of M3GAN, it was no surprise when a sequel was announced. But what could he have in store? Will be Elise, Gemma’s AI domestic assistant, to be the big bad M3GAN 2.0? Could it become a horror musical? Will the sequel also have two versions?
Cooper didn’t share any details.
“I can’t speak to that, but for me personally, I’m going to bring the horror to the page,” she said, adding, “And that will probably include more fucking and gore.”