Long live the new box office queen.
After selling out stadiums across the country, Taylor Swift is filling movie theaters with “The Eras Tour” concert film, which ignited to estimates of $95 million to $97 million over the weekend. Studios typically report a firmer number at this point, but “without clear comparisons, Sunday box office projections remain a range,” the film’s official distributor AMC Theatres said in a note to press. Rivals have suggested the final tally could be closer to $94 million.
It’s still a remarkable start for a concert film that was announced just six weeks ago and landed on the big screen with minimal promotion outside of Swift posting on social media to her 350 million followers.
At the international box office, “Eras Tour” collected $31 million to $33 million, putting its initial global tally between $126 million to $130 million.
During its first weekend in theaters, “The Eras Tour” became the highest-grossing concert film in domestic box office history, surpassing the entire $73 million run of “Justin Bieber: Never Say Never” in 2011. Depending on the final weekend tally, “The Eras Tour” has the potential to set an October box office benchmark, which is currently held by 2019’s “Joker” with $96 million.
“It’s such a unique achievement because we’re talking about a tentpole-level opening that didn’t exist on the planning calendar a few months ago,” says Shawn Robbins, the chief analyst at Box Office Pro.
Swift’s “Eras Tour,” a filmed version of her globe-spanning stadium show, was originally scheduled to open on Friday the 13th (to coincide with her lucky number). But she surprised fans by launching the film a day earlier with showtimes beginning Thursday at 6 p.m. “The Eras Tour” will keep an atypical release schedule from here, making it difficult to predict the film’s box office trajectory. It’s only playing in theaters on Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. This is because Team Swift wants the film to be experienced with a packed crowd rather than half-empty auditoriums during a Monday matinee. Her numerically loaded fees ($19.89 for adults, $13.13 for kids and seniors) are expected to offset the reduced showtimes because the tickets cost more than the nation’s average price.
“We’re going to assume the box office will double from here, but there’s no precedent for this,” says David A. Gross, who runs the movie consulting firm Franchise Entertainment Research. “We’re in uncharted territory.”
Fans are treating the theatrical experience like another (less expensive) stop on her sold-out tour. And instead of strictly enforcing no-talking or-texting rules, exhibitors — at Swift’s suggestion — are encouraging the audience to sing and dance and even take videos of all the fun inside the theater. It’s no surprise that “Eras Tour” earned an “A+” CinemaScore from audience members, many of whom will be back for repeat viewings.
The movie took an unconventional route to theaters because it’s not being distributed by a major studio. Instead, the pop star released the movie with the help of AMC Theatres, the world’s largest cinema chain. Swift, who self-produced the film, stands to earn a ton of money from the concert movie. She gets to take home about 57% of ticket sales, with theaters keeping the remaining revenues and AMC taking a small distribution fee. Of course, these profits are nothing compared to the billions she’s expected to make from the actual tour, which is the most lucrative concert in American history. But it’s a huge windfall for exhibitors, who were worried about an otherwise bleak fall at the movies, especially after “Dune: Part Two” moved to 2024.
“The Eras Tour” became such a cultural phenomenon that four Hollywood movies, including “The Exorcist: Believer,” moved their debuts to avoid the release of Swift’s concert film. “PAW Patrol: The Mighty Movie,” “Saw X” and other holdovers rounded out box office charts in one of the first weekends in some time that overall revenues topped $100 million.
In a distant second place, “The Exorcist: Believer” added $11 million from 3,684 venues in its sophomore outing, declining 58% from its debut. So far, the scary sequel has generated $44.9 million in North America and $84.9 million worldwide. Universal and Blumhouse spent $30 million to produce the film but a staggering $400 million for rights to the property, with plans to at least develop a new trilogy.
“PAW Patrol: The Mighty Movie” landed in third place with $7 million in its third weekend of release. The animated kids film, from Paramount and Nickelodeon, has grossed $49.8 million in North America and $126 million worldwide to date. The sequel has surpassed its predecessor, 2021’s “PAW Patrol,” at the domestic box office ($40 million, while opening simultaneously on Paramount+), but it’s still trailing the first film globally ($140 million).
“Saw X” took the No. 4 spot with $5.6 million in its third frame, bringing its domestic tally to $41 million. It cost just $13 million, so it’ll be quite profitable for its backers by the end of its theatrical run.
Disney and 20th Century’s sci-fi epic “The Creator,” directed by Gareth Edwards and starring John David Washington, rounded out the top five with $4.3 million from 2,960 locations in its third weekend in theaters. The $80 million-budgeted film, about a war waged against humans and AI, has generated just $32 million at the domestic box office and $79.1 million globally.