The Eras Tour hits streaming December 13th. It’s not to be missed!
There are only a few people who can get me to break my yearly October Scary Movie Binge: among them Martin Scorsese and Taylor Swift. If I’m honest, it surprised me too; but there I was, at the theater to watch a concert movie instead of the usual horror my soul craves.
But Taylor Swift created a moment with the Eras Tour concert film; all movies want to create a moment, but few do. Barbie and Oppenheimer did earlier this year, each needing the other for the cultural movement that was Barbenheimer. It felt as if everyone saw these films, even those who don’t usually go to the movies; and, as a result, both films, each good in their own right, made incredible amounts of money.
I thought Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour came out randomly on October 13th, I’ve since learned nothing Swift does is random. 13 is her favorite number, her lucky number, and she loves to take on industry norms, like the idea that October 13th should be reserved for horror films. As she does when she takes on an industry, she won. The Exorcist: Believer had to vacate its original release date, and nearly every theater in America was bejeweled. Millions were made in presales, a moment was created, and I wasn’t going to miss it.
Full disclosure: Going into the film, I was not a fan of her catalog, but I respected Swift as an artist. I didn’t have a favorite song, nor could I name a handful of them. The film changed all that. Swift is an incredibly talented songwriter and performer; her stage presence is an infectious joy. She’s having a great time, and therefore the audience has a great time. The set itself is a site to behold: monstrous screens, amazing imagery, a moss covered piano and cabin in the woods, all of which is backdrop to countless costume changes. Everything has a weight, the weight required to span eras. It is clear she played a part in every decision made.
What impresses me most, though, now that I’ve been brought into the Swiftdom by way of the concert film, is what Swift has done with her own catalog. Rerecording 4 of 6 albums whose rights were sold to a private equity firm in 2020, Swift has literally reclaimed her voice. Truly, a pioneer in taking on the music industry, and reclaiming the artist as center, not the C-suite. Artists of all sorts have to go through a gauntlet of agents, managers, executives, and other people in suits made-up of red tape just to get something created and out into the world. Often, in the end, what they’ve created doesn’t even belong to them. Swift bucked the system, created her own way forward, and most important, left a trail of breadcrumbs for her fellow recording artists to follow. Scooter Braun probably thought Swift would never go to all the trouble; he could not have been more wrong, and he’s paying for it where it likely hurts most- his wallet.
Similarly, this concert film completely bypassed the studio system and went straight to distributor, AMC. The move was so bold, and early tracking overwhelming positive for the Eras Tour, that studios vacated the slot and stepped out of her way. If Swift wanted to own October’s Friday the 13th, it was hers. In so doing, she reiterated her mantra; we need not take the well-worn path, we can always make our own way. In so doing, Swift has opened the door for artists, from Bryan Adams re-recording his old songs to Olivia Rodrigo negotiating her contract to own her songs outright; and this was just the beginning. Renaissance: A Film By Beyonce not only opened big on December 1st with nearly $30 million worldwide, which is historically a docile time for the box office, but the Beyonce directed picture is currently carrying a perfect 100% on Rotten Tomatoes.
I did not attend the Eras Tour concert. But watching the film brought me right there, front and center. Director Sam Wrench cut the most effective and evocative angles. And while I could only name a few songs going into the film, now every song I hear I think, “I could listen to that again and again.” Obviously, Swifties loved the film, earning a rare A+ CinemaScore. The overwhelming positive feedback has been well documented from TikTok to The Times, but the surprising story here is the effect the film had on the rest of us who just wanted to be a part of the moment. We found more to love than we ever expected.
Final words: Glad I went. Glad I was a part of the moment. Had a really good time, as did seemingly all in the packed theater. Maybe my soul needed Eras even if it was craving horror.
Eager to be Pleased Friday Night Reaction: A
Cinephile Review: A
Critical Response: A