Cinema owners are counting on just that after last week’s surprise announcement that Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour concert film will hit theaters across the U.S. and Canada for several weekends, beginning on Oct. 13. Several exhibition sources tell The Hollywood Reporter they believe the film could open to a record $100 million, based on brisk advance ticket sales. Nor are they ruling out the movie ultimately grossing $150 million or more domestically.
That’s welcome news amid the ongoing writers and actors’ strikes, which are prompting high profile fall movies movie to delay their releases. Sony’s Kraven the Hunter, starring Aaron Taylor-Johnson as the Marvel anti-hero, relocated from Oct. 6 to next August. Warner Bros. and Legendary’s Dune: Part Two was slotted for Nov. 3; now it will open in March 2024 in hopes that the cast will be available to do publicity by then (SAG-AFTRA prohibits talent from promoting any movie or show from a struck company.)
To date, 2011’s Justin Bieber: Never Say Never holds the record for the top-grossing concert film at the domestic box office with $73 million, not adjusted for inflation. Never Say Never earned another $26 million overseas for a global total of $99 million.
Michael Jackson’s 2009 posthumous documentary-concert film This Is It earned $72.1 million domestically and $181.9 million globally. After the film topped the chart on its opening weekend, Sony extended the film’s two-week theatrical run for an additional three weeks domestically and one to three weeks in overseas territories.
A year earlier, Dinsey’s Hannah Montana and Miley Cyrus: Best of Worlds Concert Tour broke records when opening to $31.1 million in North America over Super Bowl weekend as young girls flooded theaters. The pic topped out at $65.8 million domestically and $70.6 million globally.
And earlier this year, Trafalgar’s BTS: Yet to Come in Cinemas earned more than $53 million globally in a limited cinema event.
AMC Theatres — the world’s largest exhibitor — pulled off a coup in nabbing distribution rights to Taylor Swfit’s concert pic, which attracted the attention of multiple Hollywood studios, according to insiders. It’s unorthodox for a mega-theater circuit to distribute a movie, and AMC has teamed with indie distributor Variance to book the pic in rival cinemas.
“Everyone will want to play this film,” says one owner of a smaller theater circuit, although he’s worried that AMC locations could have the upper hand if they are nearby.
AMC’s presales for the Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour concert film hit a record-shattering $26 million within the first 24 hours. The previous crown holder was $16.9 million in first-day ticket sales for 2021’s Spider-Man: No Way Home in 2021. The mega-exhibitor says it will hold at least four showtimes a day on Thursday, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays at every AMC location in the U.S.
Swift’s Eras tour — kicking off in March of this year in Arizona — led to record demand for tickets and smashed world records in terms of attendance and concert tour revenue.
Hollywood studios began rearranging their October calendars within hours of Swift announcing the concert film on social media. Universal and Blumhouse were the first to blink in moving up the release of The Exorcist: Believer from Oct. 13 to Oct. 6. (the horror pic needs younger females). “Look what you made me do. The Exorcist: Believer moves to 10/6/23,” producer Jason Blum wrote on X Aug. 31, along with the hashtag #TaylorWins.
And on Sept. 1, Bleecker Street relocated Meg Ryan’s romantic-comedy What Happens Later from Oct. 13. to Nov. 3. “So we’ll take our time…Are you ready for it?” Bleecker Street tweeted. “Meg Ryan ends her 14-year rom-com hiatus and the #Megaissance begins with #WhatHappensLater, now happening…later. Coming only to theaters November 3.”
All exhibitors booking Eras Tour are seeing keen interest, not just AMC. “The record-breaking advance sales happening at our theaters across the United States for Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour showcase the incomparable joy that comes from taking in unbelievable content in an immersive environment together with friends, family and fellow fans,” Cinemark chief marketing and content officer Wanda Gierhart Fearing said in a statement. “Her tour’s sensational attraction, which is now continuing across exhibition, drove frenzied traffic to our website and app the moment tickets went on sale, and we are ready for Swifties to be enchanted by this concert film in the unprecedented number of auditoriums we have booked to meet demand for the shared, musical experience.”