Last week AMC Theatres announced that Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour concert film had officially become a record-breaking movie. The film, which was announced with tickets on sale Thursday morning, shattered the record for single-day advance ticket sales revenue at AMC at $26 million. The previous record of $16.9 million was held by Spider-Man: No Way Home. And those Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour concert film numbers are expected to rise dramatically as we get closer to the film’s opening day. Recognizing the unprecedented demand, AMC is adding additional showtimes to increase capacity where necessary and available. During its run at AMC, Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour concert film will play at least four showtimes per day on Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays, at every AMC theatre location in the United States. What does all of this mean for the future of the entertainment business? How does it affect what defines event cinema or a movie? How does it impact the relationship between Hollywood studios and exhibitors? What might be the lasting influence of Taylor Swift’s most recent audacious moves?
Make no mistake: this is clearly a Taylor Swift deal from start to finish. Tickets are priced at $19.89 and $13.13 — the former a reference to her 2014 album title and the latter a double-dip on Swift’s self-described lucky number.
On social media Thursday morning Swift posted an 80-second trailer of the two hour and forty-five-minute film and told her fans: “The Eras Tour has been the most meaningful, electric experience of my life so far and I’m overjoyed to tell you that it’ll be coming to the big screen soon. Starting October 13th, you’ll be able to experience the concert film in theatres in North America!”
According to a source, a mutual friend of Taylor Swift’s father reached out directly to AMC CEO and chairman of the board Adam Aron to say that they were disappointed in what the major Hollywood studios had to offer for the entertainer’s film and wanted to bypass them altogether. The Swifts paid for the production at a budget reported to be between $10 and $20 million. Aron negotiated the deal directly with Swift and no agents were involved. Lawyers weren’t brough in until the very end.
According to the same source, participating theatres will get 43 percent of the box office and 57 percent of the gross goes to AMC and Swift. After thirteen weeks, the source said, Swift is free to release the film to streaming if she chooses.
Fandango reported that Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour broke the ticket seller’s first day sales for 2023 and ranks among their first-day pre-sellers, which include Avengers: Endgame, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Spider-Man: No Way Home and others.
“Taylor Swift is giving moviegoing fans and the entire industry the ultimate gift by bringing Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour concert film to the big screen,” said Jerramy Hainline, senior vice president, Fandango Ticketing. “Not only is Taylor Swift’s concert film the best first-day ticket seller of the year on Fandango, but the concert film is performing like the superhero she is and ranking among the best first-day ticket sellers of all time from franchises like Marvel, Star Wars, DC Comics and more.”
As for how the film could be produced during the actors and screenwriters strike, Swift’s team sought and received permission from the unions.
SAG-AFTRA has struck an interim agreement to cover individual non-Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers productions that meet the same standards the unions are seeking in their negotiations with the studios. A source close to the Swift film confirmed to Billboard on Thursday that the Eras film had obtained clearance under that agreement before shooting the movie.
The list of terms on the interim agreement covers everything from scheduled breaks to payment for fittings, meal and wardrobe allowances for principal actors and background actors, per diems, rest periods and more.
The Eras Tour film was shot over the first three nights of Swift’s six-night stand at L.A.’s SoFi Stadium from August 3-9.
This marks the inaugural step of a new line of business for AMC Entertainment. In addition to exhibiting Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour concert film at its own theatres, AMC is also acting as the theatrical distributor, securing locations and screens with numerous other movie theatre operators throughout the U.S., Canada, and Mexico.
AMC has already secured deals with major theatrical exhibitors including Cinemark and Regal in the U.S., Cineplex in Canada, and Cinepolis in Mexico, to show Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour concert film.
Numerous other movie theatre operators have also agreed to show this concert film experience in their theatres beginning October 13, and AMC expects that more will follow in the coming days and weeks. AMC has engaged Variance Films to coordinate this booking with interested exhibitors in the United States. To discourage speculation on secondary-ticketing sites, there will be no refunds offered on ticket purchases.
Without the involvement of any of the major Hollywood studios, some have raised the issue of how Swift and AMC will market this movie. It’s a fair question, but Swift has proven herself to be a marketing dynamo and she currently has more than 336 million followers across all social media platforms. Her fans, including those who have already seen the concert in person, seem all but certain to go see the movie at least once.
Which raises the question of what exactly has Taylor Swift wrought and where does the industry go from here? It may be too early to answer but IndieWire writer Tom Brueggemann had this to say:
“Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour [concert film] may force clarity on a long-simmering box-office issue: what is a movie? This clearly will be a major contributor to theatres’ bottom lines, but should pre-recorded events like concerts, operas, and plays be included in box-office statistics?
“She sells billions of dollars in concert tickets, music, and merchandise; inspires slavish loyalty from fans of all ages; and is a brilliant marketer. We can now add another to Swift’s very long list of achievements: she’s opened Pandora’s Box.”