Hindsight may be 20/20, but producer Jason Blum didn’t need the luxury of time to see that “M3GAN,” a horror movie about a diabolical robot-like doll, was destined for success.

So much so, that Blum did something he’d never done in his nearly 30-year career: He publicly admitted his desire to make a sequel before the movie even opened in theaters. He just felt certain that audiences would instantly fall in love with M3GAN, short for Model 3 Generative Android, whose chaotic dance moves, pithy one-liners and killer tendencies turned her into an internet icon as soon as Universal debuted the first trailer.

“We broke our cardinal rule,” he says. “I felt so bullish that we started entertaining a sequel earlier than we usually do.”

And sure enough, “M3GAN” slayed at the box office in early January, shattering expectations with its $30 million debut. So far, it’s already generated $50 million globally. With a price tag of $12 million, the film’s backers — Universal, Blum’s company Blumhouse Productions, and producer James Wan’s Atomic Monster — are poised to reap big rewards.

Gerard Johnstone directed the well-reviewed film, which centers on a brilliant roboticist (portrayed by Allison Williams) who builds a realistic AI creation programmed to be the perfect companion to her recently orphaned niece. After its killer debut, Blum spoke to Variety about turning M3GAN into a viral star and why she needs a follow-up film.

From my understanding, James Wan came up with the idea for M3GAN. How did you get involved?

James Wan and Atomic Monster came up with the idea and I was lucky enough that they brought it to us. We did the preparation together for a long period of time. One of the hardest things was figuring out what M3GAN would look like and how she’d work. I give Gerard a lot of credit for figuring that out.

How was M3GAN first described to you?

A.I. gone wrong… that was the first pitch to me.

She’s a combination of real acting and CGI. How did you initially envision the character?

Gerard was incredibly focused on that. At points, he drove everyone crazy. I look back now, and I’m grateful he did. The tiniest details of how her eyes would look and her stare… he was obsessed. A lot of the success of the movie is that she’s kind of human and kind of a robot.

Universal Pictures /Courtesy Everett Collection

Is it hard to pull off the aesthetic of the uncanny valley? M3GAN has clearly resonated, but there are high profile examples — “Cats” comes to mind — where audiences really rejected it.

The way you stick the landing is you don’t start prepping your movie until you know exactly every detail of what M3GAN is going to look like, how you’re going to shoot her. We’ve made mistakes in the past where we have some kind of monster in a movie and we start prepping before the monster is worked out. We learned from those mistakes, so I didn’t want to spend any money on the movie until we knew exactly how we were going to do M3GAN. Special effects go wrong when they are rushed.

How important is coming up with the right name for a character like M3GAN?

The title treatment was from Atomic Monster. It came to us with that title, with the 3 for an “e.” It’s all important. When you get something to connect with culture, it’s very tricky. It happens so rarely. Every detail matters. You never know what actually did it, but the title certainly played a part.

To that point, as much as they can try, I don’t know if studios can engineer a hit. But M3GAN makes a pretty good argument to the contrary. Did you know she’d be such an instant sensation?

I’d agree that you can’t engineer a hit. The minute you start trying, the audience smells it and it doesn’t work. No one involved in the movie ever thought the dance sequence was going to go viral. And I think if you orchestrated a dance sequence in a movie to go viral, you would fall in your face.

Horror has a reputation for resonating more with audiences than critics. Has the barometer for quality changed at all?

It used to be that you can open a movie, even if the movie isn’t so good, with great marketing. But more than ever for theatrical, you need a great movie and great marketing, or it won’t work. It’s changed over time, but really in the last 10 years with social media and Rotten Tomatoes — as the transferring of information has sped up. It used to be with word-of-mouth, you’d have three or four days before people would talk to each other about a movie. Now you have three or four minutes.

Horror has been on a box office hot streak. What does the genre need to work theatrically?

Horror has always been a reliable genre. I’m happy to say today is no different. It seems to have taken the least hit of all genres. The key is what “M3GAN” is, a fun playable movie that people like. And you need to have great marketing to get people to see it.

Part of the reason your movies are so successful is because you keep budgets low. Is that necessary these days for original theatrical films?

I’ve always been a big believer that movies are better when they cost less. When you push budgets down, you make better creative choices. It’s hard to do. When budgets get big, the commercial pressures to please everyone waters down the storytelling.

How long do you think “M3GAN” should play in theaters before it goes to premium video-on-demand?

I don’t know, because I don’t think a window for theatrical is one-size. I definitely believe in an extended exclusive theatrical window. It’s the best way to monetize the distribution of films.

January can be hit or miss at the box office. Why did you decide to release “M3GAN” this month?

The first week of the year is great for horror because there are a lot of adult movies at Christmas, so [audiences] are ready for something fun and less serious.

Would “M3GAN” have been as successful at the box office without its PG-13 rating?

The movie plays younger. People have said younger people stopped going to the movies, and I think “M3GAN” shows they haven’t as long as you give them the right kind of movie.

Is M3GAN bringing anything new to the killer-doll genre?

Probably her attitude. And, the fact that technology is at the center of the film makes everything very contemporary.

Why do you think M3GAN has become a gay icon?

We just hoped people would find M3GAN fun and scary, but icon wasn’t in my wildest dreams. I’m thrilled to see it.

You have dressed up as M3GAN several times, including for Halloween. What’s the best part about embodying her?

The best part is the comfort of the dress and I think the sunglasses are pretty great. The worst part is definitely the shoes.

How soon did you know that “M3GAN” would get a sequel?

After I first saw the movie, we had a good sense that a sequel might really work. So, we broke our cardinal rule and we started talking about a sequel before the movie was released. I felt so bullish that we started entertaining a sequel earlier than we usually do.

M3GAN sings a harrowing rendition of Sia’s “Titanium” in this movie. Do you have any dream musical numbers for the sequel?

I do not. I am going to leave that level of creativity to James Wan and other folks on the film.

Will the sequel be titled “MEG4N”?

Too soon to say!