Hollywood Studios Enraged as Taylor Swift Emerges Victorious in the Game

Taylor Swift has once again caused a stir in the entertainment industry. After her successful Eras concerts, she announced via social media that her concert tour would be shown on the big screen in US cinemas starting October 13, which left Hollywood studios in shock. Her fans, commonly known as “Swifties,” immediately booked advance tickets worth $30 million (NZ$50 million) causing cinema websites to crash. This broke the previous record set by Marvel’s Avengers. The high demand for tickets has led to concerns that it may affect the box office for the new Equalizer movie starring Denzel Washington. It seems that the system is struggling to cope with the overwhelming number of Swifties trying to secure their tickets. Additionally, Taylor recently made an appearance at a wedding in New Jersey, which was considered as a funny move.

It’s no surprise that there is a high demand to see Eras on the big screen, but what’s shocking is how Taylor Swift managed to make the deal happen. She bypassed the traditional Hollywood studios and partnered with the struggling AMC cinema chain in secret negotiations. The first time the studios heard about it was when Swift announced the movie on social media. This caused chaos as Universal Pictures had to move the release of its Exorcist reboot, Exorcist: Believer, by a week. Swift has a history of doing things her way, like boycotting Spotify for three years in protest of its freemium model, only to put her music back up on the day Katy Perry released a new album. She’s also been working on her Taylor’s Version project to reassert ownership over her early catalog that she claims was sold out from under her by her original record label. With her Eras tour, Swift has been extracting maximum value from concert-goers through expensive VIP packages that go for over £500 (NZ$1,057).

Taylor Swift has made a bold move by joining TikTok, marking an audacious step even by her standards. During her recent Eras tour, her father, Scott Swift, reached out to struggling cinema chain AMC with a proposal to release Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour in cinemas. The Swift Camp’s proposal involved teaming up with AMC boss Adam Aron to have AMC both screen the movies and act as distributor. This move is similar to Taylor Swift contacting record stores directly to stock her vinyl without involving record labels, effectively bypassing the middle-man and taking control of her content distribution.

Swift had already made arrangements to film her concert during her six nights at the 100,000-capacity So-Fi Stadium in Los Angeles in August. She agreed to pay for the estimated cost of $10-$20 million and intended to retain ownership of the movie. AMC was tasked with distributing it to independent cinemas and getting it out into the world. The film is expected to launch on 4,000 screens in October, with a possibility of screening in Imax. However, there is concern that this may negatively impact Martin Scorsese’s Killers of the Flower Moon, which is also vying for limited Imax slots.

Swift had initially negotiated with studios, but after unsatisfactory results, she turned to AMC. She wants the concert movie to be released as soon as possible to capitalize on the buzz around her tour, which has yet to kick off in Europe, with additional North American dates scheduled for next year. Despite Hollywood wanting to delay the release until after her Eras dates, Swift announced the film on Twitter to generate excitement among her fans.

While Swift will make millions from the movie, she could have potentially earned more if she had negotiated harder. Studios typically take 70% of the box office revenue, with cinemas receiving the remaining 30%. However, Swift’s deal is structured differently, with the cinemas keeping 43% of the revenue, with the rest going to AMC, as a distributor, and to Swift. Additionally, the cinemas will also keep the merchandise revenue sold at screenings, which could amount to millions. Nonetheless, Swift wanted the movie out quickly, even if it meant leaving some money on the table.

The recent emergence of a Taylor Swift Cinematic Universe may not have been Hollywood’s top priority. The success of the Barbenheimer phenomenon provided the industry with a rare moment of optimism, but rather than capitalizing on that momentum, executives opted to start a war with their own creative community by allowing actors and writers to strike. Unfortunately, the pause in film production has resulted in studios postponing releases when they should be taking advantage of the positive vibes generated by Barbie and Oppenheimer. For example, the second installment of Denis Villeneuve’s Dune franchise has been delayed until next year, which is likely to harm theaters such as AMC that are in dire need of cash flow. It’s clear that nobody understands modern entertainment quite like Taylor Swift. The recent success of Barbenheimer demonstrated that people will flock to the cinema if they feel like they’re part of a communal experience. However, Hollywood refused to capitalize on this opportunity, so Taylor Swift has taken it upon herself to do so.

If you’re a Swift enthusiast who is disappointed with the difficulty of getting tickets to her live performances, you’re in for a pleasant surprise this autumn with the release of the Eras Tour film. However, for Hollywood, this is yet another example of the industry’s hastened decline into insignificance. It’s challenging to empathize with Hollywood executives even during favorable circumstances, but when it comes to competing with Swift, they are undoubtedly the underdogs.

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