AMC/Variance’s “Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour” is falling short of pre-release hopes for an October opening weekend record but is still rejuvenating the box office with what AMC is estimating as a Friday-Sunday frame between $95 million and $97 million domestic.
Prior to release, AMC projected a $100 million domestic opening for the concert film, which would have topped the $96.2 million October record set in 2019 by “Joker.” The weekend grosses released on Sunday morning are always educated guesses based on Friday and Saturday earnings, and they are usually pretty on point when the final figures are released on Monday.
Even if the film falls short of the October record, neither AMC nor other theater chains will bemoan these slightly lower-than-expected numbers. They are still pushing overall weekend grosses to the highest levels seen since “Barbie” topped the charts two months ago.
Moreover, in just three days, Taylor Swift’s concert epic has already passed the unadjusted totals of “Michael Jackson: This Is It” ($72 million in 2009) and “Justin Bieber: Never Say Never” ($73 million in 2011) to become the top-earning concert documentary ever at the domestic box office.
Whether this is a fluke due to the sheer size and scale of Swift’s fanbase or a possible supercharged return to the kind of relatively successful concert films theaters saw in the late 2000s and early 2010s, a NATO/Cinema Foundation survey of 6,000 moviegoers found that 72% of those polled want to see more concert films on the big screen.
Even if no other concert films get anywhere near this weekend’s towering debut, it could be a semi-regular boon for theaters no matter where distribution (be it AMC itself or a conventional studio) comes from. Theaters should see another boost during the typically slow post-Thanksgiving weekend when AMC brings a film version of Beyonce’s “Renaissance Tour” to the big screen.
“It was another landmark weekend for cinemas, with moviegoers turning out in droves for a fantastic concert beautifully filmed for the big screen,” NATO president and CEO Michael O’Leary said. “This year has been marked by unprecedented experiences for movie lovers in theaters across this nation. The ‘Eras Tour’ debut proves, yet again, that fans are eager to share other experiences in a communal way, with theater owners working creatively to build memorable moments in their cinemas.”
If the weekend figure seems lower than the sky-high guestimates offered up over the last month, well A) some of that was hyperbole and B) it’s still a $20 million concert flick with minimal advertising that just opened with over $95 million in domestic earnings. Even if the film ends up frontloaded, although a halfway decent 2.44x weekend multiplier suggests it may not entirely collapse after Sunday, this is still essentially an unexpected boon to theaters that had seen one big October film (“Kraven The Hunter”) and one big November release (“Dune Part II”) flee to 2024 due to strike-related publicity concerns.
Moreover, the 165-minute Taylor Swift concert is a prime example of a demographically specific event film. The picture played specifically to its “niche” fanbase, while (as seen by the relatively decent holds in the rest of the top 10) the rest of the moviegoing populace acted like it didn’t exist. Recall when “The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part II” earned $830 million worldwide in late 2012 concurrently with “Lincoln” earning $275 million and both “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” and “Skyfall” crossing $1 billion globally.
We’ve seen this many times over the last few years, with anime epics like “Demon Slayer The Movie,” concert films like “BTS: Permission to Dance,” faith-based films like “Christmas with the Chosen,” Indian actioners like “Pathaan” and grindhouse flicks like “Terrifier 2.” Those films pulled in a dedicated fanbase who otherwise would have stayed home and essentially played exclusively to the already converted. Yes, sometimes a film of this nature can expand beyond the pre-sold fanbase, as we saw last summer with Angel Studios’ “Sound of Freedom,” but there’s usually a ceiling.
Thus far, “Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour” is playing to those who were already excited a month ago. Now as we’ve seen with the later sequels in the “Harry Potter” and “Twilight Saga” franchises, “just the fans” can be blockbuster-sized if the fanbase is just that big. A $95 million-plus opening weekend and an A+ from Cinemascore suggest that the Swiftie Army is just that mighty.
The only other new release this weekend was Neon’s five-screen debut for “Anatomy of a Fall.” The Palme d’Or winner at this year’s Cannes Film Festival earned $125,377 in its debut frame. That gives writer/director Justine Triet’s murder mystery melodrama, about a woman accused of her husband’s death for which her blind 11-year-old son may be the only witness, a solid $25,075 per-theater average. It may not break out as it expands, but the $7 million picture has already earned $9 million overseas.
Meanwhile, “The Exorcist: Believer” earned $11 million in Weekend 2 for a $45 million 10-day total. Its 58% second-weekend drop is not bad for a $30 million horror movie, and it’s (sans inflation) already the biggest-grossing “Exorcist” sequel yet. However, the whole “paid $400 million for the rights” variable complicates the narrative.
Paramount’s “Paw Patrol: The Mighty Movie” earned another $7 million (-38%) to bring its 17-day total to $49.9 million. The family film sequel has passed $126 million worldwide, though that total will pale in comparison to the merchandising sales that the film will generate over the coming months.
Lionsgate’s “Saw X” held up spectacularly in its third weekend, dropping just 27% for a $5.7 million Friday-Sunday take for a $41.4 million 17-day total. Either the film is gaining momentum over the Halloween season, or the rave reviews and strong buzz are pulling in folks who either never got into the “Saw” series or hopped off the train well before “Saw: The Final Chapter” in 2010. Either way, considering “Look What You Made Me Do” and “Shake it Off” could double as John Kramer philosophies, it’s amusing to see the R-rated gorefest holding its own alongside the Taylor Swift juggernaut.
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