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Taylor Swift tour movie sets record for concert film debut

Taylor Swift tour movie sets record for concert film debut
American singer-songwriter Taylor Swift on the red carpet during the MTV Video Music Awards at the Prudential Centre in Newark, New Jersey, on 12 September 2023. (Photo: EPA-EFE / Sarah Yenesel)

The movie version of Taylor Swift’s stadium tour instantly became one of the highest-grossing concert films ever, opening with weekend sales that dwarfed those of Justin Bieber and the late Michael Jackson.

Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour delivered an estimated $96-million in ticket sales in US and Canadian theatres, according to market researcher Comscore Inc. It was expected to pull in $105-million to $145-million, according to tracker Boxoffice Pro. The shortfall reflects the difficulty in predicting box office receipts for an unusual release like the Swift movie.

“Variables such as average ticket price, assessing how frontloaded Swift’s fan base would make the film’s presales, and whether or not any traditional marketing would bring out non-Swifties all weighed heavily on the wide range of possible outcomes,” said Shawn Robbins, chief analyst for Boxoffice Pro, in an email. “Swift, her fans, and the theatrical exhibition industry should all be celebrating the results.”

The picture took in an additional $32-million internationally, Comscore estimated.

Together with Barbie, the hit film from Warner Bros. Discovery Inc., The Eras Tour is demonstrating the impact women can have at the box office — in terms of what appears on the screen and who’s in the seats. Barbie, made by Greta Gerwig, has become the highest-grossing movie ever directed by a woman. 

The Eras Tour film delivered opening weekend sales that were higher than the debut of any prior concert picture. The previous record was held by Justin Bieber: Never Say Never. That 2011 movie, distributed by Paramount Pictures, brought in $29.5-million in its opening weekend. Jackson’s This Is It registered $23.2 million in 2009.

Jackson’s movie went on to gross $261-million globally during its entire run in theatres, while the Bieber film brought in $99-million.

Rather than distribute The Eras Tour movie through a studio, Swift struck a deal with AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc., the largest theatre operator. Other chains will get the picture through Variance Films, an independent distributor. Swift and AMC are expected to take home 57% of the box-office sales, according to the Puck website. 

After Swift announced the movie in August, advance ticket sales at AMC set a single-day record. Originally slated to open on 13 October, the release was moved up a day due to increased demand. 

She promoted the film heavily, including surprise appearances by both Swift and her reputed boyfriend, NFL star Travis Kelce, on Saturday Night Live, and a cover story in the Sunday New York Times magazine this weekend.

Swift’s movie offered an opportunity for fans, known as Swifties, to catch the show they missed or relive the concert experience. Noor Jahan, 26, saw Swift live, but was happy to take her 13-year-old sister and 16-year-old cousin to the movie this week. The family wore matching heart-shaped sunglasses and cardigans and traded friendship bracelets with movie goers at a screening in New York. 

“I was there for Taylor and singing the songs I grew up listening to, but now I can see the dancers and the production and details she puts in,” Jahan said. She said the movie experience was similar to the concert with fans screaming, signing and dancing. 

Her sister, Shamira, called the film “everything she wanted and more”.

Critics loved the picture as much as the Swifties, with the film getting a perfect score of 100 among movie critics on Rotten Tomatoes. 

Swifties had the opportunity to spend on Eras Tour merchandise including cups, popcorn buckets and tote bags.

Consumer spending by fans of Swift and fellow superstar Beyoncé added $5.4-billion to US gross domestic product in the third quarter, according to Bloomberg Economics. An average Swiftie spends upward of $1,500 to attend a live performance, including the cost of tickets, hotels, flights and food. 

Beyoncé struck a similar distribution deal with AMC for her upcoming concert movie, Renaissance, which will hit theatres in December.


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