There probably isn’t a top director or star who doesn’t envy Taylor Swift for bypassing the Hollywood studio system and working directly with AMC Theaters to bring her new concert film to the big screen. That way, she could remain in control and not have a studio or independent distributor tell her how to market and distribute her concert film.

Taylor Swift: Eras Tour is certainly an unqualified win after opening to a record $92.8 million domestic and $123.5 million worldwide over the October 13-15 weekend. It’s already the highest-grossing concert film of all time in North America and the second-largest domestic debut in October, not adjusted for inflation.

However, questions remain as to why Epoch tour fell short of an expected opening of $100 million in North America and $150 million worldwide and whether millions remained due to the release’s unorthodox rollout. Some point out the unusual messages surrounding the film (e.g. Swift and AMC encouraging fans to dance and sing while watching the two-hour, 48-minute film). There are also concerns that independent theater communities have been left in the dark about key decisions because of AMC’s unique role as both a distributor and an exhibitor. One thing is pretty certain: Swift and her team were the masterminds behind every step. Another thing to take for granted: The studios are definitely mad because they could have charged a distribution fee of 8 to 15 percent.

“It’s hard to resist a $90 million opening. I think it’s great for the industry and it’s great for AMC, but there was money left over because it wasn’t done by professionals,” says a studio executive.

David Herrin, founder of film research company The Quorum, disagrees and says Epoch tour is a complete success. “Even if the film had had the full marketing resources of a studio, I’m not sure the audience would have grown. The audience is limited and I feel like she reached everyone.”

The Hollywood Reporter spoke with theater and distribution insiders to analyze some of the lessons learned Epoch tour.

Unfair advantage

When Swift and AMC Theaters announced the concert film on August 31, some consumers may have assumed AMC was on sale Epoch tour exclusively. In her original Instagram post, she revealed the news about Epoch tour film, Swift tagged AMC (the post has since been edited and no longer has the AMC hashtag).

This theory was immediately confirmed when advance ticket sales in the US for AMC and fellow mega-chains Regal and Cinemark topped $37 million in the first 24 hours. AMC’s share was $26 million, a record.

“It was pretty clear that only the top three circuits had extensive knowledge and were able to put their tickets on sale from the start,” says a source at a leading independent circuit. “And that left virtually every other racetrack in America having to scramble and rewrite their schedules, readjust their planning for the coming months, and then have the stress of what if we put tickets on sale and the website collapsed. “So it was a gift from AMC, but it was also complicated and certainly beneficial to them.”

AMC proudly boasted that its U.S. locations enjoyed an unprecedented 41.5 percent opening weekend market share, compared to the usual 22 to 25 percent.

“She [AMC] I positioned this film as an exclusive, which is something you never want to do. As a distributor, you cost total sales. “A studio doesn’t know who’s selling the tickets,” says a Hollywood sales veteran.

Sold out! (But not really)

One week ago Epochs Following the opening, AMC issued a press release announcing that global pre-sales had increased to over $100 million across all distribution channels. This may have led to the misconception that a consumer could not get a ticket to the opening weekend. (Disney’s marketing machine faced a similar problem Star Wars: The Force Awakens and made every effort to spread the message that there were still enough seats.)

The exhibition source says ticket sales for Epoch tour Around the same time, a noticeable plateau began. “You would expect a film that sells so many tickets to trend upwards, but it was so front-and-center. So when it comes to concert films, the demand is like a concert where so much happens [when tickets first go on sale] that it is top-heavy in a way. We’ve definitely sold a lot of tickets for the next few weeks. But since it doesn’t behave like a normal film, it’s hard to say how it will work.”

Non-refundable tickets Irk Swifties

Epoch tour was originally scheduled to premiere on October 13th at 6pm local time (Swift’s lucky number is 13). Late on October 11th, just before heading to the film’s world premiere in Los Angeles, Swift announced that, thanks to tremendous demand, the film would instead open on October 12th at 6 p.m. Some Swifties quickly took to X (formerly known as Twitter) to complain that they couldn’t rebook their tickets from Friday evening to Thursday without paying twice. (No one can remember another case where a movie ticket was non-refundable.)

“Some of these [Thursday] The shows were doing well, and some were a ghost town. There are all these fans who bought tickets to what they thought was the first show [and] Many of them would end up in a fairly quiet theater. It was framed as if [Taylor Swift] “I just decided that day, but I would be shocked if that were the case,” says the source of the exhibition.

Thursday’s shows generated $2.8 million in grosses, compared to $22 million in previews Barbie. The traditional game pattern for a studio event photo Barbie Here’s how to do it: Host previews on Thursday evening before expanding everywhere on Friday morning. When a studio distributes EpochsIt’s unlikely they would agree to a 6pm Friday start time

“I know the first few shows didn’t hurt the grosses, but they didn’t bring a good reputation to the theaters. “They were caught off guard,” says the studio distributor, pointing out that theaters had to increase staff at the last minute on Thursday.

Leave the dancing to us

Swift’s fan base includes many adults, but only 18 percent of them come to see it Epoch tour on opening weekend were 35 years and older, including 9 percent 45 years and older. According to a Morning Concert poll conducted in March, 21 percent of those who described themselves as Swift fans made up the generation

Additionally, according to PostTrak, the audience was 79 percent female and 70 percent white, leading some to question whether a broader audience would not have been reached if a studio had run a traditional marketing campaign. This is especially true when it comes to the gender breakdown, as according to Morning Consult, 48 percent of Swift’s fans are male (according to the pollster, 74 percent of her fan base is white). “Basically, it appealed to younger white women,” says another studio sales source. “We could have done something marketing-wise to attract more people.”

The singer and AMC encouraged fans to dance and sing as much as they wanted. Images of such opening weekend activities quickly spread on social media. But some moviegoers weren’t so happy with the noisy environment and took to social media to voice their displeasure. “Older adults in particular may have been put off by it and decided to stop watching it,” says the studio manager.

Playing the board game (or managing expectations).)

Several weeks before a film’s release, various tracking services release their opening weekend predictions. Hollywood studios are notorious for discounting a film’s scheduled opening in case it doesn’t match the shot. In the case of Epoch tour, it was the opposite. AMC went with a domestic estimate of $100 million, while at least one major tracking service was far more conservative, suggesting $75 million. (To be fair to AMC, most assumed it would gross $110 million to $125 million domestically based on advance ticket sales.)

The discrepancy is now clear to sales managers: There was virtually no walk-up business all weekend. “In the case of BarbieI watched it even though I didn’t play with it as a child and it wasn’t around me either. But I wanted to see what Grossgerwig did with the property. This sense of discovery is missing from a concert film,” says Herrin.

All eyes are now on the how Epoch tour occurs on the second weekend. Most assume it will triumph over Martin Scorsese’s victory Flower Moon Killer, which opens Friday. Should there be a precipitous fall, it would be another lesson for the industry and for AMC’s foray into distribution, which includes the release of Beyoncé’s upcoming concert film. Renaissance: A Film by Beyoncéon December 1st.

“There will be more of that next year as everyone tries to get the same money. Overall, I’m definitely glad it happened because it was a gift of a big premiere number that draws people to the theater. But I think there is still a lot to learn and think about in the coming weeks and months,” says the exhibition’s source.

Paul Dergarabedian, Comscore’s chief box office analyst, adds: “The additional nearly $100 million in domestic box office that the Swift concert film added to the bottom line will ultimately be worth the stress caused by this weekend’s unprecedented and unique release.” is caused.”

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