M3GAN” is poised to make a killing in its box office debut this weekend, but it won’t be enough to scare off “Avatar: The Way of Water” from the top spot.

Universal’s PG-13 horror is now expected to take a $27 million stab into its opening weekend, which is up from earlier projections. It made $11.7 million on Friday, and it will be the first movie to open above $20 million in the first weekend of January — typically a slow, post-holiday time — since 2018’s “Insidious: The Last Key.”

However, “M3GAN” will have to settle for second place, as James Cameron’s “Avatar: The Way of Water” is looking to make between $35 million and $43 million in its fourth weekend, which will bring it past $500 million domestically. That will be about a 33% to 45% decrease from last weekend, but the blockbuster juggernaut keeps breaking records. On Friday, it surpassed Marvel’s “The Avengers” as No. 9 on the highest-grossing movies of all time with $1.546 billion globally. It’s the second highest-grossing domestic release of 2022 behind “Top Gun: Maverick.”

“M3GAN” was previously predicted to make $17 million to $20 million this weekend from 3,400 theaters. That’s a killer start for a movie with a production budget of only $12 million.

Short for Model 3 Generative Android, “M3GAN” is directed by Gerard Johnstone and stars Allison Williams and Violet McGraw. When an AI creation meant to provide companionship to a recently orphaned girl becomes a little too protective, terrifying antics ensue.

“M3GAN” has been getting good reviews, too, with Variety‘s Owen Gleiberman writing that the film “is overly steeped in pop-culture role models, but in its trivial way it’s a diverting genre film, one that possesses a healthy sense of its own absurdity.”

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