Movie theatres turned into concert venues this weekend as Swifties brought their unparalleled enthusiasm to multiplexes across North America, helping propel Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour to a massive, first place debut.
Concert film raked in as much as $97M in North America, AMC Theatres says
The Associated Press
Movie theatres turned into concert venues this weekend as Swifties brought their dance moves and friendship bracelets to multiplexes across North America. The unparalleled enthusiasm helped propel Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour to a massive, first place debut between $95 million and $97 million US in the U.S., Canada and Mexico, AMC Theatres said Sunday.
It’s easily the biggest opening for a concert film of all time and, not accounting for inflation, has made more than the $73 million Justin Bieber: Never Say Never earned in 2011. In today’s dollars, that would be around $102 million. And if it comes in on the higher end of projections when totals are released Monday, it could be the biggest October opening ever. The one to beat is Joker, which launched to $96.2 million in 2019.
A unique experiment in distribution, premium pricing, star power and loose movie theatre etiquette — more dancing and shouting than a Star Wars premiere — have made it an undeniable hit. Compiled from Swift’s summer shows at Southern California’s SoFi Stadium, the film opened in 3,855 North American locations starting with “surprise” Thursday evening previews. Those showtimes helped boost its opening day sum to $39 million — the second biggest ever for October, behind Joker‘s $39.3 million.
“This is a phenomenal number,” said Paul Dergarabedian, the senior media analyst for Comscore. “To have a blockbuster style opening weekend for a concert film is unprecedented.”
Swift, who produced the film, went around the Hollywood studio system to distribute the film, making a deal directly with AMC, the largest exhibition company in the United States. With her 274 million Instagram followers, Swift hardly needed a traditional marketing campaign to get the word out.
WATCH | Swift, Beyoncé attempt to pack movie theatres like stadiums:
Taylor Swift and Beyoncé attempt to pack movie theatres like stadiums
Featured VideoMusic’s two reigning queens of pop are attempting to replicate their stadium-filling success with film versions of their tours in theatres. Taylor Swift’s The Eras Tour arrives in theatres Friday, while Renaissance: A Film by Beyoncé is set to premiere in December.
Beyoncé made a similar deal with the exhibitor for Renaissance: A Film By Beyoncé, which will open on Dec. 1. The two superstars posed together at the premiere of The Eras Tour� earlier this week in Los Angeles. It was a needed injection of star power with Hollywood actors over 90 days into a strike that has left most red carpets void of glamorous talent and resulted in several high-profile films being pushed to next year.
The Eras Tour, directed by Sam Wrench, is not just playing on AMC screens either. The company, based in Leawood, Kansas, worked with sub-distribution partners Variance Films, Trafalgar Releasing, Cinepolis and Cineplex to show the film in more than 8,500 movie theatres globally in 100 countries.
The spotlight on Swift has been especially intense lately as a result of her relationship with Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce. The two made separate surprise appearances on Saturday Night Live this weekend and were also photographed holding hands in New York.
It led to some hyperbolic projections going into the weekend, with some analysts predicting that The Eras Tour could make over $125 million. Dergarabedian said it’s common for outsized expectations to be attached to massive brands like Swift. There’s also no precedent for something like The Eras Tour and a celebrity of Swift’s stature.
“The laws of gravity don’t apply to Taylor Swift,” Dergarabedian said.
The film scored well with both critics and audiences, who gave it an A+ CinemaScore, a metric that typically signals a film will continue to do well after its first weekend.
Elizabeth Frank, the executive vice-president of worldwide programming and chief content officer for AMC Theatres, said in a statement that they are grateful to Taylor Swift.
“Her spectacular performance delighted fans, who dressed up and danced through the film,” Frank said. “With tremendous recommendations and fans buying tickets to see this concert film several times, we anticipate Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour concert film playing to big audiences for weeks to come.”
The stadium tour, which continues internationally, famously crashed Ticketmaster’s site and re-sale prices became astronomical. Pollstar projects that it will earn some $1.4 billion. The concert film offered fans both better seats and a much more affordable way to see the show for the first or fifth time. Prices are higher than the national average, at $19.89, which references her birth year and 2014 album, and ran closer to $29 a pop for premium large format screens like IMAX. Even so, they are significantly less than a seat at one of the stadium shows.
Showtimes are also more limited than a standard Hollywood blockbuster, but AMC is guaranteeing at least four shows a day on Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays at all AMC locations in the U.S. Many locations also specified that there are no refunds or exchanges. And fans will have to wait a while for The Eras Tour to be available on streaming — part of the AMC deal was a 13-week exclusive theatrical run.
‘Great news for theatres’
Michael O’Leary, CEO of the National Association of Theater Owners, said in a statement the moment was, “Another landmark weekend for cinemas.”
“This year has been marked by unprecedented experiences for movie lovers in theatres across this nation,” O’Leary continued in a statement. “The Eras Tour debut proves, yet again, that fans are eager to share other experiences in a communal way, with theatre owners working creatively to build memorable moments in their cinemas.”
O’Leary said that a survey of 6,000 people by his organization and The Cinema Foundation found that 72 per cent want to see more concert films on the big screen.
The Eras Tour accounted for over 70 per cent of the total weekend box office grosses. The Exorcist: Believer placed a very distant second in its second weekend with $11 million, followed by the Paw Patrol movie in third with $7 million. Rounding out the top five was Saw X with $5.7 million and The Creator with $4.3 million.
“This is great news for theatres,” Dergarabedian said. “The Eras Tour wasn’t even on our radar in mid-August. You take this out of the equation and it would have been a totally different weekend.”
Ticket sales figures for Friday through Sunday at U.S. and Canadian theatres are estimates, according to Comscore. Final domestic figures will be released Monday.