'Swifties' flock to movie theaters for record-breaking 'Eras' film

13 Oct 2023 02:16pm
Fans gather outside the "Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour" concert movie world premiere at AMC The Grove in Los Angeles, California on Oct 11, 2023. - (Photo by Robyn Beck / AFP)
Fans gather outside the "Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour" concert movie world premiere at AMC The Grove in Los Angeles, California on Oct 11, 2023. - (Photo by Robyn Beck / AFP)

LOS ANGELES - Taylor Swift fans sporting friendship bracelets and glittery cowboy boots packed into early screenings of the pop megastar's concert film at movie theaters across the United States on Thursday.

Thanks to the hysteria surrounding the singer's ongoing and record-setting world tour, a filmed version of her concert -- "Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour" -- is already tipped to be one of the year's biggest movies.

Usual cinema etiquette has been thrown out the window, with multiplexes such as AMC encouraging customers to dance, sing and even take selfies throughout screenings.

"At the top of my lungs, I will be screaming in my seat, and dancing around, and hopefully trading more friendship bracelets," said Jamie Concha, 20, at a screening in Los Angeles' Century City.

"I love every Swiftie. I think we're all very connected," she said, referring to the nickname adopted by Swift's fiercely loyal fanbase.

Shot during three recent sold-out Los Angeles shows, the film contains no interviews, commentary or behind-the-scenes footage.

Instead, the film's demand relies on drawing fans who missed out on tickets to the actual tour, or want to relive the phenomenon again, up close and alongside fellow obsessives.

In the concession line before the first screening in Century City, a pair of teenage girls arrived carrying a bag stuffed with friendship bracelets, which they handed out to fellow Swifties.

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The colorful, beaded accessories have become a key part of "Eras" fandom, with concertgoers creating and swapping bracelets bearing references to their favorite Swift lyrics and quotes.

The Midwest-based Marcus Theatres has even promised "friendship bracelet making stations" at its screenings.

- Swift-branded popcorn tins -

Almost all the moviegoers at Century City on Thursday had been to see the live shows already, and many were planning repeat viewings at the multiplex.

"I'm coming to four screenings, and I saw the concert three times," said Amber Eaves, 33.

"It was the best concert experience I've ever been to... I was crying the entire time, I had makeup streaming down my face," said Kasey Longstreet, 24.

"It was such a special night that I wanted to come back and see it again."

Domestic opening weekend box office estimates are as high as $150 million -- a record for a concert film, and numbers comparable to this summer's reigning smash hit movie, "Barbie."

Theaters -- still recovering from the pandemic, and faced with a dearth of new movies thanks to the ongoing Hollywood strikes -- were also cashing in on demand for Swift merchandise Thursday.

AMC charged $19.89 -- a reference to Swift's album "1989" -- for Swift-branded popcorn tins.

Staff reported fans arriving since the morning just to purchase empty soda cups, at the full price of $11.99. Some left with the maximum five cups allowed per movie ticket.

The movie had been set to hit screens Friday, but the singer announced on Wednesday that "due to unprecedented demand," preview screenings would begin a day earlier.

"I'm already going this weekend, but when she dropped this at the last second, I was like, 'I gotta go after work, oh my god," said Eaves.

"It's just gonna be one of those cultural phenomenons that you can look back and say 'I was a part of that.'" - Andrew Marszal / AFP