eater alert: This interview contains spoilers for “M3GAN”.
“M3GAN has to be perfect. We can’t have a hair out of place,” director Gerard Johnstone says of the killer AI puppet at the heart of his latest film. “It was actually a pretty tough shoot. It was very difficult.”
“I had a really great team around me, who were all having fun and reminding each other, ‘Hey, this movie is funny.’ It was a real pleasure,” he added. After the challenging shoot, Johnstone himself remembered the humor at the end: “It was amazing when the first edit reminded me, ‘Oh, this picture was actually quite charming and funny.'”
Now that the film has scored a killer $30 million opening weekend, it looks like all the hard work was worth it. In an interview with Dr diversityJohnstone breaks down the film’s original ending that was scrapped, why he’s hoping for a sequel, and how Kermit the Frog inspired M3GAN’s original song.
We don’t often see children murdered in horror movies, but “M3GAN” pulls no punches with Brandon’s death. Did you get any shock surrounding that scene?
No one ever pushed back. That scene is like the wish fulfillment of any parent who only sees a pit kid who you know is a monster and is going to bully or push your kid around. It was sheer joy. young jack [Cassidy] Such a sweet kid, but he just bullies so well. He’s actually a sweetheart, really. But when he was gone, he reminded me of a young Ben Affleck. Because it’s in the woods, it’s almost like a dark Grimm fairy tale at that point. It’s like a lesson to kids who are thinking of being donkeys: just be careful.
How did you land on the final design for M3GAN?
We’ve done thousands. The one we ended up with came really late in the game and we went out on a limb on some things. He had to look iconic. I just kept saying, “Does that feel iconic enough?” Also, he had to move, so it had to have a function and a degree and sophistication. It has to be something we haven’t seen before. She couldn’t do the doll dress like the “Shining” girls – we saw that. “Annabelle” – we saw it. She has a bit of a Barbie, I think, but more like a 1950s Barbie. He must have had a lot of repetition.
What was that moment when M3GAN sings “Titanium” in the original script?
No, it wasn’t. But the great thing about this movie is that M3GAN was just the gift that kept on giving. All of these opportunities were where we thought, “Well, he can do it, maybe he can this” It was a scene where he was trying to reassure Katie. And I was thinking, “Well, what’s the best way to reassure her? A lullaby.” I don’t know what that song was like…maybe it was playing, or maybe it just sounded right, because Megan is made of titanium. I just thought, “This is going to be really fun.”
This scene is very pleasant to see, because people don’t know we will go there. And it’s the same thing when we first met him, when we did that presentation with Cady and he breaks into the song. We are already impressed with what he can do. When he starts singing, it takes it to another level. Credit must be given to Akela [Cooper] and James [Wan]. It is very difficult to start with a blank page. It’s easy for me as a director to come over the top and say, “Hey, you know, it would be fun if you did this.” All the hard work is done at that time. It’s like the fun icing on top.
Let’s talk about that other musical moment: M3GAN’s original song, “Tell Me Your Dreams”.
I gave the idea briefly [composer Anthony Willis], “He needs to create some algorithms based on the ‘Rainbow Connection’ of Burt Bacharach, Randy Newman, Stevie Wonder and Kermit the Frog. It has to be all those imbued in one.” He brought all of this Disney wonder to it. He gave me the song credit! It’s a very simple song, but it took forever to think of. But these algorithms are: If you create these AI-generated songs But they’re very simple. And they make almost no sense. But they sound like something you’ve heard before. That was the whole idea.
Supervising puppeteer Adrienne Morot told me There was once more a CGI-heavy ending that was scrapped. Can you share what it was?
They had this battle with Bruce, and there was going to be another part of it where they thought they were going to run away, and Bruce basically… They leave the workshop where they had this big battle, and then they hear a “ka-chunk”! ” And it’s Bruce’s head being thrown. And then, through the smoke of the door, M3GAN appears as a dismembered torso, and Bruce grabs him from behind and drags him along the corridor. It was great, and I really fell in love with it. But something quite realistic. Because we couldn’t do that. We tried to shoot that version, and the physics didn’t work. It was all these logistical things. So that’s why we did the last version we did. But I like the version we did, even though it was a great idea. .I like the version we got because it made Cady’s character more interesting.
The ending leaves things open-ended. Are you open to more M3GAN in the future?
How could I not be? Now that the film is finished and people are embracing it. There were many ideas that we had and aspects of M3GAN’s personality that we wanted to explore I totally think there is more to say. And I know M3GAN has more to say. I want to do another one. Hopefully soon, while it’s still fresh in everyone’s mind.
Who will win the fight: M3GAN or Chucky?
M3GAN is becoming more self-aware. He has artificial intelligence, which we all know will one day run the world. I like to think that M3GAN will tease Chucky until he finds every single weakness, and then he can exploit them. And that would be a very convincing one, I think. No disrespect to Chucky! “Child’s Play” was one of my favorite movies as a kid. I say this with utmost respect.
This interview has been edited and condensed.