After 2 ½ months of buildup, TAYLOR SWIFT: THE ERAS TOUR finally arrived in movie theatres this weekend. Much was expected from this unique release, with advance ticket sales for breaking all records and the singer’s weekly appearances in the luxury boxes of NFL stadiums revving the hype machine into overdrive. In response to what was described as “unprecedented demand,” in the same week as its release exhibitors added early shows on Thursday evening and Friday daytime.
When the dust settled, it seems that Taylor Swift rose to meet the moment by grossing $96.0M and taking first place by a wide, wide margin. If that number holds, THE ERAS TOUR will be the second-highest October opening of all time, just missing out on JOKER which earned $96.2M in its first three days October 2-4, 2019. The domestic box office for all films was $135.1M, compared with $78.3M last year on the same weekend when HALLOWEEN ENDS opened to $40.1M.
Most experts were forecasting THE ERAS TOUR to gross $ 100M-$110M in its opening three days, so the actuals came in slightly under those high estimates. The movie accounted for 71% of the total North American box office. Comparing it against the other blockbuster openings of the year, THE ERAS TOUR slots into sixth place.
Top Grossing Movie Openings (3 Days) of 2023
- BARBIE – $162.0M
- THE SUPER MARIO BROS. MOVIE – $146.4M
- SPIDER-MAN: ACROSS THE SPIDER-VERSE – $120.7M
- GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL. 3 – $118.4M
- ANT-MAN AND THE WASP: QUANTUMANIA – $106.1M
- TAYLOR SWIFT: THE ERAS TOUR – $96.0M
Perhaps a more relevant comparison is with other concert films. The previous record holder was JUSTIN BIEBER: NEVER SAY NEVER which opened on February 11, 2011, and earned $29.5M in North America in its first three days and $73.0M domestic and $99.0M worldwide. THE ERAS TOUR has already shattered those records in its first three days, and will likely wind up with three times those amounts.
Both the critics and the public love Taylor, rating the movie 100% and 99% respectively on Rotten Tomatoes, one of the highest ratings in the history of the site. The lasting impact of the movie may come from the innovation of its business model, representing a dramatic shift towards a direct relationship between talent and exhibitors to avoid the traditional studio distribution model.
After months of fruitless discussions with studios, Taylor’s father Scott Swift picked up the phone to call Adam Aron, the head of AMC Entertainment, the world’s largest exhibitor. Swift asked Aron if AMC would be interested in showing a movie recorded at one of the performances of THE ERAS TOUR.
We imagine that Aron paused for around a nanosecond before answering with an enthusiastic YES! and spent the next few days hammering out the details. The specialty distributor Variance Films was brought on board to manage the bookings, so that exhibitors of all types could participate, avoiding any potential accusation of anti-competitive distribution.
This arrangement sidestepped the studio middleman and left a larger share of the box office to divide between the talent and exhibitors. It’s also worth noting that tickets were sold at an average price of $20.75, which is nearly twice the industry average. This business model is repeatable, at least for concerts and live performances, and it will surface again in only six weeks when RENAISSANCE: A FILM BY BEYONCÉ debuts in theatres on December 1st.
THE EXORCIST: BELIEVER in its second weekend finished in a very distant second place, with $11.0M in new ticket sales and a drop of 58% from its debut. The ten-day total for the horror sequel is $44.9M. After spending $30M to create the film, the Blumhouse/Universal creation might be challenged to turn a profit, especially considering tough scores on Rotten Tomatoes with critics giving it a brutal 22% and audiences a rotten 54%.
In two weeks, Universal’s FIVE NIGHTS AT FREDDY’S will take over most of the horror audience, which will effectively close out BELIEVER’s box office. We expect that it will wind up earning $55M domestically and $90M worldwide, good enough to crawl into the black.
Paramount’s animated PAW PATROL: THE MIGHTY MOVIE finished in third place with $7.0M. It continues to clean up with young family audiences, now with a 17-day total domestic gross of $49.9M. We expect the pups to finish with $65M domestic and $130M worldwide, after spending $30M to produce it. Those numbers work out to a 4.3:1 ratio of worldwide gross to production budget, which should result in another sequel being made.
Lionsgate’s SAW X finished fourth with an additional $5.7M and a drop of only 27% from last weekend. The film continues to track the earnings of the original SAW in 2004 and will finish its run with $100M worldwide. After spending only $13M in production, the worldwide gross-to-production budget ratio will come in at 7:1.
20th Century THE CREATOR hung on to fifth place with $4.3M and falling 31%. After 17 days, the Sci-Fi original feature has only earned $32.4M domestically and will struggle to reach $90M worldwide. Given that Disney spent $80M to make the movie and had high hopes for it to become a franchise, this result is quite disappointing.
WHERE ARE WE AS OF 10/12
After 40 weeks, the 2023 year-to-date totals are 126% of the amount earned at this point in 2022, and 84% compared with 2019.