Taylor Swift | The Eras Tour
Concert Film | October 13, 2023
Table of Contents
Background and Development
Taylor commissioned a recording of “The Eras Tour” to be theatrically released as a feature film. Sam Wrench, who previously helmed Billie Eilish’s Billie Eilish: Live at the O2 (2022), was hired as director, and the film was recorded at the first three of six Los Angeles shows of the tour from August 3 to 5, 2023, at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, California. Taylor’s in-house production company, Taylor Swift Productions, produced the film independently. Forgoing the involvement of major American film studios allowed Taylor to reduce expenses; Puck estimated that the film cost $10–20 million. It was able to be produced, released, and promoted amidst the SAG-AFTRA strike because it received special approval from SAG-AFTRA as a non-AMPTP production that met “the same standards the unions are seeking in their negotiations with the studios”. SAG-AFTRA chief negotiator Duncan Crabtree-Ireland stated that Taylor “came to us and said she wanted to do this, but only if she could do it the right way under a union contract”. Taylor announced the concert film on August 31 through her social media accounts, and during an appearance on Good Morning America. Tickets went on sale the same day in the US, Canada and Mexico. On September 26, Taylor announced a worldwide release of the film.
Distribution and Ticketing
AMC also acted as distributor in other territories, distributing a film globally and to unaffiliated theater chains for the first time in its history. Cinemark Theatres and other circuits were also granted rights to the film. Chains set to exhibit The Eras Tour include Regal, Cineplex, Cinépolis, Cinemex, and Odeon, in addition to AMC and Cinemark. Variance Films, via a sub-distribution deal, assisted AMC with bookings at non-AMC and Cinemark locations, and tickets were also available for purchase online via Fandango. The film is expected to screen in more than 4,000 theaters in North America, as well as more than 7,500 theaters worldwide.
According to media outlets, Taylor’s family secretly negotiated with AMC CEO Adam Aron to distribute the film, and the terms of its distribution and financing were dictated by Taylor rather than AMC. The fixed pricing model and unacceptance of theater loyalty programs are considered highly unconventional and a breach of industry norms. No exhibitors or distributors except AMC and Cinemark were aware of the film’s release plans until the morning of Taylor’s announcement; this frustrated executives, as distributors are expected to keep each other informed of their release schedules as a gesture of good faith. Insider stated that since the Paramount Consent Decrees “were terminated in 2020”, the distribution agreement was legal. Puck journalist Matthew Belloni reported that “disappointing” talks with the major film studios had led Taylor and her parents to instead negotiate a distribution deal directly with Aron and Cinemark. As part of the agreement, 43% of the box-office earnings will go to theaters, while Taylor and AMC’s distribution arm will split the remaining 57%. Additionally, theaters will retain all concession revenue and screen the film for up to 26 weeks, although Taylor has the option to send the film to streaming services after 13 weeks. The Sydney Morning Herald reported that the theaters are allowed to screen the film for a minimum 15 times, including one in the prime time (6:00 PM to 8:00 PM) each day of the run.
Billboard noted that the “unusual deal” could influence AMC and other exhibitors to expand their distribution operations to include other concert films. Shannon Power of Newsweek believed Taylor and AMC’s partnership “has the potential to rewrite the rules” of film distribution. The Daily Telegraph praised Taylor as “the greatest tactician in showbusiness,” writing, “Barbenheimer showed people will go to the cinema if they feel they are participating in a communal experience. Hollywood refused to take advantage of this. So Swift has instead.” Analyses from Collider and TheWrap concluded that by successfully negotiating her own deal and proving its profitability, Taylor incentivized theaters to find programming without the help of the studios, and has “potentially [changed] the dynamics of cinema distribution.” Tony Vinciquerra, chairman and CEO of Sony Pictures, called The Eras Tour a “massive, unexpected rescue” for the theaters.
Other than AMC and Cinemark, no exhibitors or distributors were notified of The Eras Tour release date before the announcement on August 31, 2023. As the release was unanticipated, other films moved their release dates away from October 13 in order to avoid competing with Taylor:
- The hashtag “#Exorswift” trended on social media after the film’s announcement, as The Eras Tour had the same release date as The Exorcist: Believer, a supernatural horror film, in reference to the Barbenheimer phenomenon surrounding Barbie and Oppenheimer in July 2023. In response, Universal Pictures and Blumhouse Productions preponed the release of The Exorcist by one week, a decision IndieWire observed likely did not come at a low cost as The Exorcist‘s marketing campaign was expensive.
- Comedy drama film The Persian Version moved from October 13 to October 20.
- Romantic comedy film What Happens Later, directed by Meg Ryan, moved from October 13 to November 3.
- Drama film Ordinary Angels, starring Hilary Swank, was initially set for release on October 13, but was delayed to February 23, 2024.
- The biographical comedy drama Dumb Money, directed by Craig Gillespie, moved up its wide release from October 6 to September 29.
- Priscilla, a biographical drama directed by Sofia Coppola, moved from October 27 to November 3.
- The Marsh King’s Daughter, a psychological thriller, moved from October 6 to November 3.
- Paramount Pictures and Apple Studios abandoned plans for a two-week limited run of the western film Killers of the Flower Moon, directed by Martin Scorsese, before its wide release on October 20.
On September 1, 2023, AMC reported that The Eras Tour had grossed $26 million within three hours on its platform, marking the highest-ever single-day advance ticket sales in the company’s history, surpassing the previous record of $16.9 million by Spider-Man: No Way Home (2021). Wanda Gierhart Fearing, chief marketing officer of Cinemark, reported they had booked an “unprecedented number of auditoriums” to meet demand. Hence, AMC and Cinemark added more showtimes. IMAX sold out more than 250 screenings of the film in one day, a number similar to that of “a blockbuster tentpole feature”. Fandango reported that The Eras Tour had set a platform record for highest first-day ticket sales in 2023, comparable to No Way Home, Avengers: Endgame (2019), and Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015). Deadline Hollywood reported that the film had earned over $37 million in first-day pre-sale revenue across the U.S., surpassing The Force Awakens‘ $20 million and marking the second highest pre-sale tally ever, behind Avengers: Endgame‘s $50 million. As of September 15, the pre-sale revenue was $65 million, surpassing Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness ($60M) and The Batman ($42M).
In Mexico, in the first days of pre-sale, the film sold a record 292,500 tickets at Cinépolis theaters, surpassing Avengers: Infinity War (2018). In Australia, the film grossed more than $300,000 within the first 12 hours of pre-sales at Hoyts, tripling the first-day pre-sales of Avatar: The Way of Water (2022). In the United Kingdom, the film broke the Vue record for the highest first-day pre-sales for a concert film, surpassing BTS: Permission to Dance on Stage (2022). Box office projections for The Eras Tour‘s opening weekend gross range from $70 to 100 million, an all-time record for a concert film.
|Based on||The Eras Tour|
|Release Date||October 13, 2023|
|Location||SoFi Stadium (Inglewood)|
Taylor Swift Productions
AMC Theatres (USA)