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Taylor Swift's"Eras Tour" concert movie shatters box-office records

‘Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour’ film breaks pre-sale records
‘Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour’ film breaks pre-sale records 06:16

The movie version of Taylor Swift's hit "Eras Tour" concert appeared on big screens this weekend, shattering box-office records.

"Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour," which debuted Thursday at theaters across the U.S., earned an estimated $96 million domestically over its opening weekend. That makes it the most commercially successful concert film of all time, according to Comscore, which cited data from AMC Theatres. It beat out "Justin Bieber: Never Say Never," a 2010 film that grossed more than $73 million at the domestic box office. 

The Swift movie had raked in $100 million in advance ticket sales across the world, AMC Theatres said earlier this month. It also shattered AMC's U.S. record for the highest ticket-sales revenue in a single day in under 24 hours, the company said. 

"Clearly we are going to be looking at an astronomical number," Comscore senior media analyst Paul Dergarabedian told CBS MoneyWatch.

Swift relief for a suffering industry

The concert film could help revive the movie-going experience at a crucial time for the industry as the rise of at-home streaming has thrashed ticket sales and called into question the viability of the movie theater format in the digital age.

Swift's movie could dismantle the pandemic-era notion that at-home streaming would make the movie theater experience obsolete.

"Movie theaters were counted out when the pandemic hit and a lot of people thought streaming would take over and the movie theater experience would disappear," Dergarabedian said. "The Swift concert film is so welcome by the movie theater industry on so many levels, because it creates a very positive image for them."

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The Swift film is also expected to drum up interest in upcoming movie releases that might not otherwise draw a lot of attention or generate buzz. Swift fans who go to theaters for "Eras" will lay eyes on posters for other films and view trailers from their seats just before they start singing in unison to Swift's greatest hits.

"There is a halo effect on upcoming movies, so it's also good for studios that have films coming out in weeks and months ahead," Dergarabedian said. 

It could also more generally spur interest in the movie-going experience. 

"It is showing that theaters have more to bring to movie audiences than just movies in a theater," said Stan Ruszkowski, president of the Boxoffice company, a provider of film industry data. "It's a place where you share an experience and watching a concert in a theater is much more fun than watching it on a couch at home on your own."

Repeat visitors?

Alicia Reese, a vice president and entertainment analyst for Wedbush Securities, estimated that the "Eras" film could gross anywhere from $100 million to $400 million in its opening weekend. 

"There are no comparisons. It's unprecedented, so it's really hard to estimate," she told CBS MoneyWatch. "The reason for that is one, because she has such a massive built-in fan base, and two, because it's hard to estimate the number of repeat visitors who bought presale tickets for opening weekend who are going to go back the next three to four weekends."

The "Eras" film, part of the "event cinema" genre, is expected to draw crowds who don't usually  turn up at movie theaters. 

"There's going to be a whole new group of people who come to the theater who haven't been in an awfully long time and will enjoy communal experience in a way they haven't before," said Ray Nutt, CEO of Fathom Events, a distributer of event cinema content. "A lot of times you are told to be quiet and turn your phone off. This time you'll have people dancing in the aisles singing along. It will be a great thing for event cinema."  

Gap to fill as a result of Hollywood strikes

Music and movie industry executives will be keeping a close eye on the film's performance, and depending on its success, will seek to replicate the format many times over.

A recent writer's strike, and ongoing actor's strike have halted production and could lead to a gap in new television and movie releases next summer. 

"Studios and theaters will look to alternative content to do that," Reese said. 

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That could include concert movies or recorded comedy shows, which typically debut on streaming platforms like HBO and Netflix. 

"But why not movie theaters? They are definitely a possibility," Reese said.

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