Box office analysts became Swifties in the lead-up to Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour concert film release, estimating blockbuster-style opening weekend numbers.
And Swift delivered.
While the pop singer fell short of the $100 million benchmark, domestic ticket sales still topped $95 million, according to distributor AMC Entertainment.
The theater chain provided a range of $95 million to $97 million for the film’s opening weekend on Sunday, with expectations that an official figure will be provided on Monday once all tickets have been tallied.
“The film’s debut is an undeniable tentpole-level success despite the challenges of predicting what it might achieve,” said Shawn Robbins, chief analyst at BoxOffice.com. “Swift, her fans, and theatrical exhibition should all be celebrating the results.”
Already, the film has shattered records, becoming the highest-grossing concert film release domestically, surpassing Justin Beiber’s “Never Say Never” film release, which hauled in $73 million over the course of its run in theaters in 2011, in a single weekend. And it easily beat Miley Cyrus’ “Best of Both Worlds” record opening of $31.1 million from 2008.
Swift’s Eras Tour film is also the widest-released concert film in history, arriving in more than 3,850 domestic locations during its debut.
Monday’s official tally will unveil if Swift was able to capture the highest opening of October, currently held by 2019’s “The Joker” ($96.2 million), and if it is the sixth or seventh-highest opening of 2023. Disney’s “The Little Mermaid” secured $95.6 million when it opened in May.
There’s also a possibility that word of mouth and fan’s love of Swift could send more moviegoers to theaters on Sunday, pushing it closer to that $100 million figure.
“As cautioned in recent weeks, forecasts were always going to be incredibly volatile given the highly unique nature of this release,” Robbins said. “Variables such as average ticket price, assessing how frontloaded Swift’s fan base would make the film’s presales, and whether or not any traditional marketing would bring out non-Swifties all weighed heavily on the wide range of possible outcomes.”
Initially, expectations said Swift could tally between $40 million and $60 million on Friday, on her way to an opening weekend draw of as much as $150 million. The film scored $39 million on Friday, just shy of the forecasted range and included $2.8 million from last-minute Thursday night previews, which were announced less than 24 hours before they were available for purchase.
“Swift’s excitement-inducing reputation and the unprecedented nature of the release led to a massive outpouring of interest in the film certainly contributed to some overblown expectations of a $100 million plus weekend,” said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst at Comscore. “But that should not detract from the enormity of this box office achievement.”
A whopping 60% of tickets for the weekend were bought in advance, according to data from EntTelligence, one of the highest rates the movie data firm has ever seen. Typically, big tentpoles see 40% of tickets sold ahead of time.
Around 4.8 million people were estimated to have attended the film over the weekend, with an average ticket price of $20.75, EntTelligence reported. Nearly 80% of the audience was female.
International box office figures were not immediately available on Sunday, but with a solid domestic opening, expectations are high that the film can surpass the $262.5 million global haul of “Michael Jackson’s This Is It” during its limited run in theaters.
Swift’s film has weekend-only engagements in theaters, instead of daily screenings, so comparisons to other releases will be difficult in the coming weeks, but weekend-to-weekend figures will be comparable.
“The question now is what the Swift film will do for an encore in the coming days and weeks,” Dergarabedian said. “Reports of a spectacular in-theater experience bodes well for the long-term playability of the film and guarantees the film will easily eclipse the $100 million mark in the domestic market.”