“Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour” is doing all too well in theaters. The concert film made a cool sum of $39 million on its opening day from 3,855 North American locations, a figure that includes $2.8 million in Thursday previews. That ranks as the second-biggest October opening day ever, behind only the 2019 prestige comic book drama “Joker” ($39.3 million) and ahead of titles like “Venom: Let There Be Carnage” ($37.4 million) and “Halloween” ($33 million). It also lands as the seventh-biggest opening day of 2023, ranking between “Oppenheimer” ($43 million) and “The Little Mermaid” ($38 million).
Its big uptick between Thursday and Friday business can likely be attributed to Swift’s surprise announcement of preview screenings on Wednesday. Initially, “The Eras Tour” was set to lift the curtain on Friday the 13th — an important number in Taylor Swift lore. The sudden reorientation in release plans may have caught some fans off-guard after already setting their moviegoing plans.
Projections for the weekend remain up in the air. The question is how high can “The Eras Tour” go? More bullish predictions of $125 million over the three-day frame are now out of reach, though the concert film still has a shot at topping $100 million.
It’s getting a boost from premium large format auditoriums ticket prices, as well as the added urgency of its pseudo-limited run; in a unique eventizing strategy, the film will be taken out of theaters on Monday, but will return for more showtimes beginning next Thursday. The anomalies don’t end there — Swift and AMC Theatres are encouraging viewers to use their cell phones and dance during screenings to treat the movie like a concert. And of course, the first people to see the movie really, really love it — check that rare “A+” grade on Cinema Score. (Were there really any doubts?)
Swift’s documentary is primed to land among the top ten highest-grossing opening weekends of the year, ranking somewhere between the fifth to seventh spots among “Ant-Man 3” ($106 million), “The Little Mermaid” ($95 million) and “Oppenheimer” ($80.5 million).
Wherever it ends up, “The Eras Tour” is a marked victory — not only for Swift, who looks to bring in a bigger percentage of the grosses by electing to forgo distribution by a traditional studio, but also AMC Theatres, which is releasing the film through its own venues as well as other multiplexes and independent locations. By cutting out the middle-man and partnering directly with the theater chain, Swift’s landmark deal could be the start of many more concert films (and perhaps other kinds of films!) being distributed directly through exhibitors. Beyoncé has also partnered with AMC Theatres to release a concert film of her Renaissance World Tour in December.
The frenzy of Swifties is a boon for exhibitors, which have been starved of a memorable box office weekend since “Barbie” and “Oppenheimer” managed to salvage a summer of underperforming tentpoles. “The Eras Tour” will push the weekend’s total gross across all domestic releases north of $100 million — a benchmark that the market hasn’t achieved for over two months.
In a distant second, Universal’s “The Exorcist: Believer” is projecting $11 million in its second outing, which would be down a not-terrible but not-impressive 58% from its underwhelming opening weekend. Horror usually drops harder than that, but the Blumhouse and Morgan Creek-produced sequel is still only expected to push to a $44 million domestic gross through Sunday. Universal shelled out $400 million for rights to a new “Exorcist” trilogy. “Believer” isn’t exactly meeting the expectations that come with that kind of splashy deal, nor is it stirring up excitement for two more entries.
“Paw Patrol: The Mighty Movie” is fetching bronze in its third weekend. Paramount is projecting a $6.1 million haul through Sunday, which would push the North American total to $48.9 million. The sequel has now surpassed the $40 million domestic gross of its 2021 predecessor, which was simultaneously released on Paramount+. The animated feature has also crossed $100 million worldwide.
“Saw X” is carving out fourth place, projecting $5.7 million to add to its healthy running domestic sum of $35 million. That’s off only 27% from its previous outing. The horror sequel has already earned back its $13 million production budget, with more run to come before Halloween.
20th Century Studios and New Regency’s “The Creator” should round out the top five after earning $1.1 million on Friday. The Disney release’s domestic total now hovers around $29 million — still not close to going beyond its $80 million production budget.