What Marketers Can Learn From 'M3GAN'

We're only six weeks into the new year, and so far, marketing hits are few.

Yet we can look back so far and see that a movie released on January 6 has become a major hit, grossing almost $100 million and prompting a wave of op-ed reactions.

M3GAN -- a comedic horror thriller directed by James Wan and written by Aleka Cooper -- has so far grossed $88 million, making it the top-grossing film released in 2023. To an extent, that's because of the winking nature of the film’s premise. 

"'M3gan' knows it's ridiculous,” wrote a reviewer for “It fills a kiddie pool with ridiculousness and splashes around in it.”

That campiness seems perfect for a January horror release. If it was about a slasher in the woods, then "M3GAN" would have already faded into obscurity. But the film touches upon two major themes in 2023 America: artificial intelligence (AI) and gayness.



The former seems uniquely well-timed. The story of M3GAN comes just on the heels of ChatGPT, a “Google killer” that is indeed freaking Google out. M3GAN also comes as some 63% of U.S. citizens are familiar with Amazon's Alexa.

At the same time, newspaper op eds have picked up that M3GAN is a movie that has a gay sensibility. As one moviegoer tweeted: “After seeing it in a theater full of queer folks we can all agree this movie is for us.”

Not surprisingly, there is a M3GAN sequel planned, and likely knockoffs are to follow. So let's look at why this film is successful.

It's topical -- playing on our fears of AI, which presents a sort of “Jaws” template -- but it also appeals to a niche audience, which is never overtly referred to in its marketing.

Those two attributes make M3GAN the ideal film for 2023 -- and something new to focus on after three years of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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