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Box office hero: Taylor Swift concert film dominates at theatres

Box office hero: Taylor Swift concert film dominates at theatres
Fans pass by an image of Taylor Swift as they enter a cinema to watch Taylor Swift's Eras Tour concert movie in Mexico City, Mexico, Oct 13, 2023. 
PHOTO: Reuters

LOS ANGELES — Pop singer Taylor Swift ruled movie box offices over the weekend as her concert film transformed darkened theatres into dance floors and hauled in an estimated US$126 million-plus (S$173 million) around the world.

Moviegoers dressed in concert T-shirts and sequins for screenings of Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour. At many showings, fans stood to sing along and move to the beat of Shake It Off, Anti-Hero and other hits from Swift's 17-year career.

The turnout provided a welcome jolt to cinemas facing a lacklustre autumn slate after a strike by Hollywood actors prompted studios to delay titles such as Dune: Part Two.

US and Canadian ticket sales for The Eras Tour were expected to reach US$95 million to US$97 million by the end of Sunday (Oct 15), distributor AMC Theatres said.

That would surpass the US$73 million that Justin Bieber's 2011 release Never Say Never, the current record holder for a concert film, collected over its entire run.

"This is a superstar debut," Jeff Bock, senior box office analyst at Exhibitor Relations Co., said of Swift's film. "It was a party in a movie theatre."

The Eras Tour added as much as US$33 million in international markets, according to AMC estimates, for a global total of US$126 million to US$130 million.

The concert is set to be shown in theatres in more countries including Brazil, South Korea and Malaysia in November.

Final weekend results will be released on Monday.

If current estimates hold, Swift's domestic tally will fall short of the most bullish projections from box office analysts, who had forecast US$100 million to US$140 million.

Turnout had been tricky to predict, analysts said, because the film was different from the blockbuster action movies that normally top box office charts.

No movie debut in October has ever exceeded US$100 million domestically. Joker brought in US$96.2 million in 2019.

Overall, domestic ticket sales for all of 2023 so far were running 26 per cent ahead of last year, according to Comscore data, but nearly 17 per cent below 2019's pre-pandemic tally. Studios have released 16 fewer films in theateres this year compared to the same point in 2019.

Swift fans were thrilled to see the Eras Tour on the big screen. Many missed the chance to see the singer in person after ticket seller Ticketmaster suffered outages and resale prices for seats soared into the thousands of dollars.

"Given how hard it is to get a ticket to a concert, I think it is really fantastic that people who aren't fortunate enough to get there get the opportunity to see it in a venue like this," moviegoer Stephanie Gaudette said at a screening at the TCL Chinese Theatre in Hollywood.

The Eras Tour, recorded at shows at SoFi Stadium outside Los Angeles, received a rare A+ score in audience polling by CinemaScore, and a 100 per cent positive rating from film critics on the Rotten Tomatoes website.

Pop singer Beyonce will follow Swift by bringing her Renaissance Tour to theatres in December, another release that will help theatres fill gaps left by the ongoing strike by Hollywood actors. Hopes for a quick end to the work stoppage were dashed last week when labour negotiations broke down.

The National Association of Theatre Owners said a survey of 6,000 moviegoers found that 72 per cent want to see more concerts films in cinemas.

ALSO READ: Taylor Swift in attendance at Chiefs game for third time

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