Taylor Swift’s concert film “Eras Tour” debuted in theaters over the weekend; The film is the product of an intriguing distribution deal between the star and AMC Theaters, which allowed her to bypass the traditional studio system to produce it.
Amid the ongoing SAG-AFTRA strike, in which actors are scrambling for higher salaries in the streaming age, this distinction seems particularly relevant: Swift is a performer who controls every element of her own work so ruthlessly that fans react to it (which is predictably already incredibly enthusiastic) feels almost predetermined.
The Eras Tour concert film Between $95 and $97 million gross at the box office on its opening weekend, according to AMC Entertainment, making it the highest-grossing opening concert film of all time. At a sold-out opening night screening in Manhattan on Friday night, fans lined up to buy branded popcorn buckets stamped with Eras Tour imagery and exchange temporary tattoo versions of Swift’s lucky number 13. Compared to one of their actual concerts, there wasn’t the usual sea of sparkly, elaborate costumes, but there were plenty of wrists full of handmade friendship bracelets (a Swiftie business card) and even a cowboy hat or two.
Outside the AMC Village 7 theater, Cay, a Sidechat employee, promoted the Swift enthusiast app channel to fans in line.
“I’ve always loved Taylor Swift, but I only became a big Swiftie when I saw how many other Swifties there were,” Cay told The Daily Beast. “I love women and celebrating girlhood, and it was such a cool experience to be united with so many different people. For me, it’s honestly about the community.”
In fact, the notoriously vocal online Swiftie community all over the internet is jubilantly celebrating the Eras Tour film: TikToks are filled with screaming fans, dancing in the aisles, crying, throwing party trash, and generally losing their minds, like everyone does Sect is common – subsequent screening. (In my notes I called it “Rock horror for horse girls.”)
At Friday night’s screening in New York, audience members clapped along with Swift, shouted her name throughout the film, and treated it like a single sing-along (although, thankfully, the film’s volume was never completely drowned out). It wasn’t a riot, but the influence Swift has on her audience is enormous: It felt wrong not They clapped for her even though she wasn’t physically in the room and even though the performance had been recorded months before.
Even Taylor Lautner, Swift’s ex-boyfriend and alleged protagonist of the song “Back to December”, was not immune to the enthusiasm and fan fever of the Eras tour film; He was filmed doing a literal backflip in a cinema while the concert film was playing behind him.
And the film itself, a faithful, straightforward recap of the three-hour manic episode of Swift’s Eras Tour, was eloquently described by a reporter to The Daily Beast Claire Schaffer during the screening: “No offense to James Cameron, but this is the most expensive film I have ever seen.”
Surrounded by the gigantic stadiums in which she feels as comfortable as your father in his living room, Swift prances across the stage, flicking through her 17-year catalog of hits in a series of rainbow-colored outfits for three hours and commanding the screen every second avenger-long running time.
Swift mania is at an all-time high this year, but she’s never been more famous because she’s never been more interesting or, as we learned this weekend, better to watch. Conquering the box office is just their latest step.