taylor swift in the midnights era of her eras tour concert

What Taylor Swift’s Concert Film $130 Million Debut Means for Indie Film

Certainly, while Taylor Swift is undoubtedly the world’s foremost pop star, nobody anticipated her earning such a substantial amount from an independent, self-released concert film.

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Certainly, while Taylor Swift is undoubtedly the world’s foremost pop star, nobody anticipated her earning such a substantial amount from an independent, self-released concert film.


Whether you managed to secure a ticket during the Ticketmaster chaos as a dedicated Swifty or you’re just an admirer of a singer’s stamina to deliver a 3 hour and 15-minute performance six consecutive nights in Los Angeles (not to mention the numerous weekends leading to her LA finale), it’s evident that Taylor Swift is carving a niche in the cinematic arena, and she’s doing it on her own terms.

Recognizing that not every fan could attend the most sought-after concert of the year, Swift and her family conceived the idea of transporting the concert experience to a venue closer to many: the neighborhood AMC theater.

Director Sam Wrench, with credits including Lizzo’s ‘Lizzo: Live at Concert’ and three concert films of Billie Eilish, collaborated financially with Swift to produce a $15 million movie, independent of studio backing.

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So, was the gamble successful? A look at the figures offers insight.

This morning, Variety disclosed that ‘Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour’ is dominating the worldwide box office, projecting earnings between $126 million and $130 million in its debut weekend alone. This achievement crowns Swift’s concert film as the most profitable of its kind ever, surpassing Justin Bieber’s ‘Justin Bieber: Never Say Never’, which accumulated $73 million globally, as per Box Office Mojo.

Such figures are remarkable, especially considering the film’s announcement was a mere six weeks prior and was predominantly promoted on Instagram.

David A. Gross, head of the film consultancy Franchise Entertainment Research, commented, “Taylor Swift’s charisma and talent resonate powerfully, and the movie encapsulates that. It’s undeniably Taylor Swift’s moment.”

The film’s LA premiere, with tributes to the devotees who enabled the concert, underscores that this concert movie was crafted with genuine appreciation and consideration for the fans who passionately support an artist’s ventures into a different domain.

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However, there’s been a hint of discontent concerning the film’s international reception. An international distributor remarked in a Puck newsletter, “Swift’s social media reach and NFL publicity might suffice for U.S. visibility, but global promotion demands a more intricate strategy. A studio’s distribution arm would have anticipated and employed a more tactical methodology in terms of both marketing and screening arrangements…”

Promotion is crucial globally, especially for a film announced barely eight weeks back. With Swift juggling a worldwide tour, the impending release of 1989 (Taylor’s Version), her inaugural movie in the pipeline, and numerous undisclosed projects, allocating time and resources to intensively advertise an indie movie, which only consumed a minor part of her concert proceeds, might seem imprudent. This is especially true when the fan-driven word of mouth is so potent.

However, external factors also played a role. The global “day of jihad” declaration by Hamas may have deterred on-the-spot ticket sales in major urban centers globally.

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Originally, the Eras Tour was intended for North American big screens, coinciding with the conclusion of the pop star’s domestic tour leg before going global. However, due to the exceptional demand demonstrated by advance ticket sales, which swiftly vaulted the film into the top 10 all-time best first-day pre-seller movies with a staggering $26 million in a single day, Swift and AMC promptly expanded the film’s release to an international audience.

The 2-hour and 45-minute film, a slightly condensed rendition of the live concert, features two delightful surprises: “Our Song” and “You’re on Your Own, Kid.” The latter song’s lyrics even inspired Swifties to craft friendship bracelets, fostering a sense of camaraderie among fans.

There’s a certain magic in a project tailored to its devoted fan base. While the film may occasionally come across as overt in its dedication to pleasing fans (a challenge inherent to concert films), it stands as a tribute to the illustrious career of one of the world’s most celebrated pop icons. Within the theater, fans are harmonizing, shedding tears, sharing laughter, and trading friendship bracelets, recreating the ambiance of an actual live concert experience.

This phenomenon echoes the spirit of Talking Heads’ concert film from A24, ‘Stop Making Sense,’ where the audience was moved to get up and dance beneath the screen as the band belted out their greatest hits.

Could this be the golden age of concert films, or are independent studios becoming savvier in catering to audiences’ desires for prominent acts?

Amidst the turmoil in the world and the financial burdens impacting the public, a $20 ticket to a concert film that showcases beloved music feels like a breath of fresh air after a long hiatus. This concert film offers a welcome detachment from reality, providing pure entertainment that audiences seem to crave over weighty dramas that mirror the world’s challenges.

The compelling power of storytelling cannot be understated, and Swift, a globally acclaimed storyteller, offers audiences an opportunity to immerse themselves in a three-hour fairytale of an ordinary girl’s ascent to superstardom. The prospect of Swift’s future as a filmmaker, particularly with the debut of her first feature film, is undeniably exciting.

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