She’s a singer, songwriter, director, philanthropist, and a decorated musician with 10 studio albums and 12 Grammy wins to date. Taylor Swift is arguably one of the most influential artists of the 21st century, and the world’s massive legion of “Swifties” will always remind you of that. Her latest ongoing string of concerts across the globe, dubbed “The Eras Tour,” is on track to possibly become the highest-grossing tour of all time. So, it’s no wonder that Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour – a concert film made for theatrical release – has already surpassed $100 million at the global box office in presales alone. Swift has long proved herself as a powerful force in the music industry, with a career spanning 17 years and counting. But with the Eras Tour movie, she’s now setting herself up as a force to be reckoned with at the cinema.
A Swift Lesson
With Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour expected to break box office records, the question isn’t about if but how large of an impact Swift is making on the film industry. That’s a bit of a heavy-loaded question, so let’s trace things back to see how the Eras Tour movie is creating a huge moment for the theatrical experience. Taylor Swift’s music career started in 2006 and she’s since released 10 studio albums, making up a discography of over 200 songs of which she has written or co-written every single one. Her journey as an artist can’t be defined by any single genre, as she’s migrated from her original roots in Country music over to Pop as well as dabbling in Indie, Alternative, and Folk over the years.
No matter the category her music might fall under at any given time, though, her talent and prowess as a writer, vocalist, and musician are always apparent. Sure, Swift knows how to write a lighthearted and peppy hit radio single, but when diving deeper into her songs, a quick examination would prove her lyricism to be as moving as classic poetry – so eloquent that fun “Taylor Swift or Shakespeare?” quizzes are rampant online and across social media. However, things shifted in 2019 when entrepreneur/music executive Scooter Braun obtained the master recordings of Swift’s first six studio albums as part of his purchase of her previous label, Big Machine Records. Swift left Big Machine in 2018 to sign with Republic Records and Universal Music Group, and despite some efforts, she was not able to purchase back her original masters, claiming that the record label only offered unfavorable conditions.
After claims of Braun’s controlling and less-than-cooperative nature made headlines, Swift announced that she was going to rerecord every single one of her previous albums in order to reclaim full authorship of her work, as she has been a vocal advocate in the belief that artists should be able to legally own their art. So far, Swift has rerecorded and released Fearless (Taylor’s Version), RED (Taylor’s Version), and Speak Now (Taylor’s Version) with 1989 (Taylor’s Version) set to drop on October 27th and Reputation (Taylor’s Version) next up on the horizon. With Swift traveling back into her entire catalog, it was only a matter of time before this lauded reclamation took the shape of a global tour.
A Seismic Stadium Tour
Befittingly coined “The Eras Tour,” Taylor Swift began her worldwide, stadium-packed venture across the globe in March of 2023. She has since extended the tour no less than 10 times, adding extra U.S. and international dates, bringing the current concert schedule to an enormous count of 146 shows. The Eras Tour was met with unprecedented, record-setting demand, selling out in minutes and even breaking Ticketmaster servers. Swift kickstarted a fan frenzy so incredibly high that it called back to the days of music icons like The Beatles or Michael Jackson. Currently, The Eras Tour has visited 20 U.S. cities as well as Mexico. It is next set to hit South America, including stops at major cities like Buenos Aires in Argentina and Rio de Janeiro in Brazil, before taking a brief break over the holidays.
The Eras Tour will then start up again in the new year with dates in Japan, Australia, and Singapore before the European leg kicks off and runs throughout the rest of 2024. As it stands, Swift will not perform her final show of this tour until next November. Her elaborate concert, which some have hailed as “the most impressive stadium show ever conceived,” is a mammoth – featuring 44 songs broken into 10 distinct eras of her career that clocks in at roughly three and a half hours each night. The Eras Tour is on track to gross $2.2 billion total, surpassing expectations in a phenomenon that was also hailed as a positive force for the U.S. economy. It is estimated that the tour alone brought around $5 billion in consumer spending in the states.
Swift’s Sweeping Self-Funded Film
Once fans noted the presence of professional camera equipment at a handful of Taylor Swift’s shows at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, California, it didn’t take long for the general public to realize that a film of the tour would be imminent. Lo and behold, Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour, directed by Sam Wrench, was announced in late August. The film is strictly footage shot from three August shows at SoFi Stadium, with no documentary aspects. This is in comparison to her documentary Miss Americana, which premiered at Sundance in 2020. Swift self-funded the Eras tour film, producing it herself and working directly with major theater chains like AMC for distribution. As of its October 13 release date, with no serious competition since Blumhouse moved up the release of The Exorcist: Believer, Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour is playing in over 90 countries across the globe.
The Eras Tour movie is just short of the actual show’s runtime at 2 hours and 48 minutes, making it just shy of the behemoth 3-hour runtime of Oppenheimer. Though nearly 3 hours, Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour is notably missing a handful of songs from her live performance, including her 1989 single “Wildest Dreams,” Speak Now’s “Long Live,” Lover’s “The Archer,” and her performance with the HAIM sisters on the track “No Body No Crime.” Other fan favorites like “cardigan” and “seven” (interlude) from folklore have also been cut. Any disappointment this may cause is likely overshadowed by the inclusion of the beloved surprise song, “You’re On Your Own, Kid” as well as the classic “Our Song” from her self-titled debut album.
The artist herself has stated that she encourages eras attire, friendship bracelets, singing, dancing, and more during screenings of the concert film. This has received mixed reactions from moviegoers who wish to experience it more relaxed, versus fans who are more than happy to treat it like the tour itself. Despite some backlash, this truthfully isn’t any different from other types of screenings that encourage high energy from its target audience – some moviegoers online have pointed out that recent showings of the Talking Heads’ Stop Making Sense restoration from A24 have gotten appropriately rowdy too. Either way, Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour is looking to be treated as an absolute record-breaking event.
Taylor & Barbie’s Joint Feminine Impact
The only recent and similar theatre-going phenomenon that Taylor’s film could be compared to is this summer’s “Barbenheimer” craze. People turned up in droves for not one, but two very different films – Greta Gerwig’s Barbie and Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer, which in turn churned out $1 billion and over $890 million at the box office, respectively. The film industry has been struggling to pick up steam again post-COVID-19 lockdowns, with very few titles outside of superhero flicks being flocked to with any real enthusiasm from the general public. Top Gun: Maverick, Avatar: The Way of Water, and the Fast & Furious films are some huge outliers, yet the target demographic for these is undeniably mostly male.
The response towards the Eras tour concert film is reminiscent of the Barbenheimer trend in many ways; it’s something to dress up for with a group of friends, take photos and videos to blast across social media, and even go back to see multiple times with a crowd. These film “events,” unlike those of the average comic-book movie, are bringing people back to the big screen in enormous numbers, with an estimated 22% of Barbie’s audience not having been to a theater in years. Movie-going has now grown to be a more inclusive space than it has usually been in years, and it’s not hard to see how both Barbie and Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour have contributed to this.
Taylor Swift and Barbie have something they share in that they are both dominating and influential female forces that are actively opening the doors for young women around the world. Barbie, a female-driven production, dominated the summer box office and has cemented itself as one of the most popular and successful films of the year. It ultimately demonstrated that women do show up in droves to cinemas when something is made for them specifically. This also further proves that Hollywood has no excuse not to support work catered towards women in fear of the underperformance of the male demographic, causing them to lose revenue.
Taylor Swift’s film isn’t so different. Both sensations are focused on and appealing to all sorts of people of course, but they assuredly provide an extra emphasis on the flocks of women who make up the majority of Swifties and Barbie fans alike. They are symbols, in a sense, representing a shift that is likely to continue flourishing – one that is built by women, for women. And if it hasn’t been apparent by the sheer numbers, it’s been overdue, necessary, and more than welcomed. A quick scroll across any of the big social media platforms will showcase that many women, both young and older, are being vocal about Taylor Swift: The Eras being either a rare trip to the theater for them or in some cases, their first true moviegoing “event.” Regardless of what you may think of Taylor Swift, this is clearly a great thing for cinemas.
“This Is Getting Good Now”
Taylor Swift isn’t the only artist with an extremely successful tour returning in the form of a concert film. Renaissance: A Film by Beyoncé will be coming to the big screen this December and the documentary piece is set to be an event just as sought after as Swift’s movie, as presales have already reached around $6-$7 million. It’s worth noting that these two iconic stars are at the top of their game at the moment, immortalizing themselves as two of the most influential music icons of the 21st century in their own right. Helping boost the stability of the film industry with ticket sales is merely another triumph to add to their long lists. Now, this isn’t necessarily a call for there to be tons of more concert movies, but a simple case for pointing out the obvious.
When Hollywood caters to more people than the average straight white male, it can unlock incredible box office potential. In these instances with Taylor’s movie and Barbie, it’s the female market. More importantly, however, by bringing in waves of an untapped demographic, there’s a higher chance for there to be crossover. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Oppenheimer, a male-dominated 3-hour historical biopic, saw its female audience grow from 38% to 42% thanks to the Barbenheimer trend. Now, will Swifties who don’t normally go to the movies come back for something like Oppenheimer after the Eras Tour? Probably not, but it’s at least a nice start for them to start gaging their interests in what else cinema currently has to offer. There’s no doubt that Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour will cement itself as a turning point for female centricity in pop culture. Hopefully, this kind of inclusivity will only continue.