TAYLOR SWIFT: THE ERAS TOUR DANCES
Greg Marcus boasts extensive experience in the movie industry, yet he found himself in an unexpected role of encouraging moviegoers to use their smartphones during a film. This unusual twist also had him busy creating friendship bracelets in anticipation of an opening weekend.
In an unexpected promotional campaign for his theatre chain, based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, the Chief Executive and Chair of the Marcus Corporation is seen creating bead bracelets while singing along to “Shake It Off.”
Movie theatres are gearing up for an unprecedented surge in business, starting this Friday with the premiere of
Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour
This concert film, a compilation of various Taylor Swift performances at Southern California’s SoFi Stadium, is anticipated to make an impressive debut with a projected $100 million, or even more, in box office revenue. Advance ticket sales have already exceeded $100 million globally.
“This is a unique experience,” Marcus states emphatically. “Feel free to grab your phone, take selfies, dance, sing along, and blast. We’re aiming to cultivate a lively atmosphere.”
Concert films have indeed been around for some time. Just last month, the iconic “Stop Making Sense” by Talking Heads triumphantly returned to theatres decades after its initial release.
However, “The Eras Tour” represents a fresh and potentially industry-shifting development in cinema.
Two of the most prominent global icons, Taylor Swift and, in a similar fashion back in December, Beyoncé, are set to grace the big screen in groundbreaking agreements directly with AMC Theaters.
These unique arrangements bypass traditional Hollywood studios and, as of now, keep streaming platforms patiently waiting on the sidelines.
How did the theatre, once written off as obsolete, re-emerge as the preferred destination this autumn for two stars who were previously associated with Netflix?
Dune: Part Two.”
As studios started directing some films towards streaming services, movie theatres were prompted to explore new strategies for filling their screens. This challenge became even more pressing in the fall due to an ongoing actors’ strike, which postponed significant releases like “Dune: Part Two.”
Taylor Swift and Beyoncé possess a unique star power that is hard to match, making their anticipated success unlikely to be duplicated. However, “The Eras Tour” could serve as the inception of a broader transformation of the movie theatre concept. Imagine a more affordable version of venues like the Sphere, accessible in most towns nationwide.
“We might be seen as being in the movie business, but in reality, we’re in the business of bringing people together,” Marcus explains. “The more we engage in this, the more our patrons will contemplate it, and the more artists will be inclined to think,
‘This is something I can be a part of.'”
Taylor Swift team was eager to release the film, even as her stadium tour extended internationally. This tour, expected to gross approximately $1.4 billion according to Pollstar, created a frenzy, causing Ticketmaster’s website to crash, witnessing exorbitant resale mark-ups, and unfortunately, pricing many fans out of attending.
The film, directed by Sam Wrench, offers millions more the chance to relive the Eras Tour experience. Adult tickets cost $19.89, a clever nod to Taylor Swift’s birth year and her 2014 album. This cost is higher than the average movie ticket but significantly less than many live Taylor Swift concert tickets.
What’s notably unique is the rapid release timeline, with the film hitting screens just over two months after the SoFi Stadium performances. The Taylor Swift turnaround was one of the driving factors behind Scott Swift, Taylor’s father, seeking a direct deal with AMC.
Taylor Swift took on the producer role and, boasting an Instagram following of 274 million, didn’t require a studio for promotion.
The movie has garnered even more attention due to the pop star’s apparent relationship with Travis Kelce, the tight end for the Kansas City Chiefs. According to ad-tracking firm iSpot, TV advertisements for the film had aired only a few dozen times as of October 6, including multiple spots during NFL broadcasts. To provide context, a Marvel movie might have thousands of TV commercials in comparison.
The revenue from ticket sales will be divided, with 43% going to theatres and 57% shared between Taylor Swiftand AMC.
The majority of that share will, of course, go to Taylor Swift.
The film is scheduled for an exclusive theatrical run of at least 13 weeks, longer than many Hollywood releases nowadays. AMC CEO Adam Aron has praised the deal as “a significant achievement for AMC” on social media.
Both AMC and representatives for Swift have chosen not to comment on the film’s release.
Following its premiere in Los Angeles on Wednesday, there will be advance screenings once the movie hits theatres at 6 p.m. local time on Friday.
This unconventional schedule deviates from the usual practice of wide-release movies, which often include Thursday showings and daytime screenings on Fridays. It’s yet another intriguing aspect of this nontraditional release that challenges established norms in Hollywood.
“Innovation often arises from challenging circumstances in this industry. We’re witnessing many subtle changes, ” from subtle to quite substantial,” explains Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst for Comscore.
“At the moment, there are no hard-and-fast rules for achieving success.”
Dergarabedian predicts that these two concert films will boost the North American box office to over $9 billion in 2023, surpassing the $7.4 billion earned in the previous year and approaching the $11.4 billion of 2019.
“It genuinely broadens the horizons, suggesting that various types of content can perform exceptionally well in a movie theatre,” he adds.
Removing long-standing antitrust regulations governing movie distribution has made some of these transformations possible.
The Paramount consent decrees, which had regulated the separation between exhibition and distribution for over seven decades, were terminated in 2020 at the behest of the Department of Justice. This change included a two-year sunset period that concluded last year.
“Innovation had essentially been hindered,” remarks Makan Delrahim, the former antitrust chief at the Justice Department who proposed the termination of the consent decrees.
Delrahim believes that “Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour,” distributed by a theatre chain with unconventional ticket pricing, has the potential to “inspire new business models that can revitalize the exhibition industry.”
“There will be a greater willingness to explore various models for theatrical distribution,” Delrahim asserts. “The industry and consumers alike need it.”
Meanwhile, “Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour” is on the verge of becoming the most successful concert film ever in just a few days since its release. Excluding inflation, the record is held by “Justin Bieber: Never Say Never” from 2011, which grossed $73.1 million throughout its entire run. Considering inflation, surpassing “Woodstock,” which earned $50 million in 1970 (equivalent to nearly $400 million today), might be more challenging.
Like many other chains, Marcus’s theatres will have designated stations for creating friendship bracelets. Sound systems have been adapted to enhance the concert experience. Despite the unusual sight of an AMC logo preceding a film in his theatres, Marcus takes no issue with it.
“I’m just pleased to have it there,” he expresses.