Taylor Swift, the cultural phenomenon known for her sold-out stadium tours, voter engagement efforts, and football game appearances, is now poised to breathe life into the movie box office, still struggling to recover from the pandemic and Hollywood strikes.
Scheduled to hit movie theaters on October 13, “Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour” is set to test the waters of “alternative content” like concert films, offering a potential lifeline to the cinema industry, which often sees its fortunes rise and fall with the theatrical release calendar.
Industry insiders anticipate that Swift’s film could generate a substantial $120 million in its opening weekend, providing a much-needed boost to movie theater chains like AMC Theatres and Cineworld.
However, even the combined star power of Taylor Swift and fellow pop sensation Beyoncé, whose concert film “Renaissance Tour” is set to premiere in December, may not be sufficient to completely offset the disruptions caused by Hollywood strikes.
These labor disputes have disrupted the industry’s recovery, halting the momentum generated by summer hits like “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse,” “Barbie,” and “Oppenheimer.”
This setback comes just ahead of the crucial holiday season, responsible for about a quarter of the annual box office revenue.
Box Office Pro senior analyst Shawn Robbins explains, “Swift and Beyoncé will certainly fill some of the gaps, but it’s probably asking too much for those titles alone to completely make up for the revenue of ‘Dune: Part 2,’ ‘Kraven the Hunter,’ and the next ‘Ghostbusters.'”
These highly anticipated films were pushed back to 2024 due to the ongoing strike by the SAG-AFTRA actors union.
In response to these delays, theater owners have scrambled to showcase “alternative content,” such as concert films, with advance sales for “Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour” matching those of major blockbusters like Star Wars and Marvel.
Analysts expect the documentary to rake in between $150 million and $225 million during its theatrical run in the United States and Canada.
Rolando Rodriguez, chairman of the National Association of Theatre Owners, notes that while alternative programming has been discussed for some time, Taylor Swift’s tour film has taken it to new heights, and Beyoncé is expected to elevate it further.
Yet, despite these efforts, the industry faces uncertainty, with concerns that the strike may impact next year’s film slate.
Even if an agreement is reached between studios and actors by Thanksgiving, production delays during the holidays could disrupt the flow of new movies into theaters in 2024.
Despite these challenges, the return to contract talks between striking actors and industry representatives is seen as a positive sign, and analysts believe that, if resolved promptly, the near-term damage to the industry will be limited, with only mild impacts on the 2024 release schedule.