'Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour' will be a box office hit and could revolutionize the movie business

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Greg Marcus has been in the movie business for years, but he never expected to urge moviegoers to take out their phones during a movie, much less make friendship bracelets in preparation for opening weekend. .

But there, the CEO and president of Marcus Corporation is in a promotion for your cinema chain based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, stringing beads while humming “Shake It Off.”

Movie theaters are preparing for an onslaught like they've never seen before, starting Friday when “Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour” premieres. The concert film, compiled from various Swift shows at SoFi Stadium in Southern California, launches with $100 million, or possibly more. Advance ticket sales worldwide have already surpassed $100 million.

The swift will descend. Dancing will be encouraged.

“This is different,” says Marcus. “Take out your phone. Take selfies. Dance, sing, get up, have a good time. “We want to create an atmosphere.”

Concert films, of course, are nothing new. Just last month, Talking Heads classic “Stop Making Sense” returned to theaters for an encore decades later. But “The Eras Tour” heralds something new and potentially revolutionary in the film industry.

Two of the most important stars on the planet, Swift and in December under a very similar agreement, Beyoncé are headed to theaters in one-of-a-kind deals made directly with AMC Theaters that bypass Hollywood studios and, for now, leave streamers waiting on the sidelines.

But how did the once-declared-dead multiplex become the go-to spot this fall for a couple of stars who were previously at home on Netflix?

As studios began shifting some of their titles to streaming platforms, movie theaters began to think more about how they could fill their screens, an issue exacerbated this fall by an actors' strike. that led to postponement of major releases such as “Dune: Part Two”.

Movie theaters are increasingly not just a marquee for showing movies, but a big-screen stage for a variety of visual media. bts released a concert film earlier this year , with higher ticket prices and limited hours. The Metropolitan Opera has been performing for years popular live broadcasts in cinemas.

Few artists can do what Swift and Beyoncé can do. The expected success is unlikely to be repeated. But “The Eras Tour” could be the beginning of an expansion of what, exactly, a movie theater can be. Think in the Sphere just much cheaper and in most cities.

"You could say we're in the movie business, but we're really in the business of meeting other people," Marcus says. “The more we do it, the more clients will think about it and the more talent will go – this is something I could do.”

Swift's group was motivated to get the film out even as their stadium tour continues internationally. The tour, which Pollstar projects to raise about $1.4 billion, Ticketmaster site crashed earned sky-high resale margins and left many fans priced out.

The film, directed by Sam Wrench, would be a way for millions more to experience the Eras Tour . Adult tickets sell for $19.89,” a reference to his year of birth and the 2014 album, the re-recording of which will be released on October 27. That's more than the average movie ticket, but several thousand less than many tickets to see Swift live. .

It's also arriving extraordinarily quickly, just over two months since SoFi was introduced. Speed ​​was one of the reasons Swift's father, Scott Swift, is said to have sought a direct deal with AMC. Swift produced the film herself, and with 274 million followers on Instagram, she didn't need a studio to promote it.

The The pop star's apparent relationship with Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce has only further illuminated the film's attention. According to ad tracking firm iSpot, television ads for the film ran only a few dozen times through October 6, including several spots during NFL broadcasts. (By comparison, a Marvel movie might show several thousand television commercials.)

Ticket sales will be split 43% between theaters and 57% between Swift and AMC, with the majority going to Swift. The film will play exclusively in theaters for at least 13 weeks, longer than many Hollywood releases today. AMC CEO Adam Aron called the deal “a blow for AMC” on social media.

Both AMC and Swift's representatives declined to discuss the film's release.

After the premiere in Los Angeles on Wednesday, there will be no advance screenings until the film begins screening at 6 p.m. local time on Friday. Most wide-release movies begin with daytime screenings on Thursdays and Fridays. It's another detail in a non-traditional release that challenges Hollywood norms.

“Innovation comes during difficult times in this business. We're seeing a lot of changes, some subtle, some not so subtle,” says Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst at data firm Comscore. “It seems like right now there are no rules when it comes to being successful.”

Dergarabedian believes the two concert films should help lift the North American box office to more than $9 billion in 2023, up from $7.4 billion last year and approaching $11.4 billion in 2019.

"It really opens up the idea that other types of content can work very well in a movie theater," he says.

Some of those changes have been facilitated by the abolition of long-standing antitrust restrictions governing film distribution. After more than 70 years of regulating the divisions between exhibition and distribution, Paramount consent decrees They were canceled in 2020 at the request of the Department of Justice, with a two-year sunset period that extended until last year.

“Innovation had effectively been stunted,” says Makan Delrahim, a former Justice Department antitrust chief who proposed ending consent decrees.

Delrahim believes that “Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour,” as a film distributed by a theater chain, with non-traditional ticket prices, could “drive new business models to save exhibitors.”

“There will be more desire to experiment with different theatrical distribution models,” says Delrahim. "The industry needs it and, frankly, so do consumers."

Meanwhile, “Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour” is about to become the biggest concert movie in history in about two days of release. Without taking inflation into account, 2011's “Justin Bieber: Never Say Never” holds that mark with $73.1 million in its entire run. Taking inflation into account, it will be harder for “The Eras Tour” to catch up to “Woodstock,” which grossed $50 million in 1970, a total that today translates to nearly $400 million.

In Marcus's cinemas, as in many other chains, there will be friendship bracelet stands. The sound systems have been modified to achieve a more concert-like feel. And while Marcus acknowledges that it will be strange to see an AMC logo before a movie plays in its theaters, he doesn't particularly mind.

"I'm happy it's there," he says.

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