Taylor Swift and Beyoncé Are Resurrecting the American Movie Theater


Christopher Nolan is a Taylor Swift fan. This is an actual sentence typed in the year 2023. Why does this matter? you ask? Simple, Nolan is a longtime champion of the cinematic experience, and during a recent event at the City University of New York he noted that Hollywood studios need to pay attention to how Swift distributed The Eras Tour, her nearly three-hour concert film. Rather than partnering with a studio to release the movie, Swift went straight to theater owner AMC and secured a multimillion-dollar deal for herself. Nolan said the move was a demonstration of the power theatrical releases still wield and that if studios and streamers “don’t want it, somebody else will.”

Nolan’s comments came just before The Eras Tour blew Martin Scorsese’s new movie Killers of the Flower Moon out of the water at the US box office during the latter’s opening weekend. (Not that Scorsese would necessarily mind being bested by a concert film.) Swift made $33 million; Marty made $23 million. It wasn’t quite a Barbenheimer-level face-off. In fact, it didn’t even inspire wondrously twisted double-feature outings. Instead, cineasts went to see KIllers of the Flower Moon and took to TikTok and X afterwards to complain they couldn’t hear it due to the boom-boom-boom of Swift’s movie. Now we’re all in our Swifties of the Flower Moon/Killers of the Eras Moon era.

Worldwide, Eras has made nearly $179 million and is on track to be the highest-grossing concert movie of all time. With studios slowing their theatrical output amidst the ongoing actors strike (and the dual actors-writers strikes before that), it could also end up being one of the highest-performing movies of the year, period. As theaters struggle to get back to pre-pandemic attendance numbers, it could be Swift that bolsters them most going into the holiday season.

Or, it could be Beyoncé. On Thursday, the other unstoppable pop icon who headlined a massive tour this year announced the premiere dates of her own concert movie. Renaissance: A Film by Beyoncé will hit theaters on December 1. It will chronicle the singer’s Renaissance World Tour, and like Mrs. Knowles-Carter’s last concert film—Homecoming—it promises to be huge.

Perhaps it feels like a stretch to claim that concert films will be what saves cinema, but with Hollywood running on fumes, it’s much more possible for their movies to have an impact—or at least for the large impact they would have no matter what to seem like the only thing happening at the multiplex. And not for nothing, but finance types are literally out here claiming these two artists boosted the US gross domestic product in the third quarter of this year, so it’s not like this is just a theory birthed from my stan-internet-infected brain.

The Monitor is a weekly column devoted to everything happening in the WIRED world of culture, from movies to memes, TV to Twitter.

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