This has been a difficult year for the film industry. The long-running strike which delayed or halted the making of many movies, and prevented star names from promoting many of those that did get released, has meant cinemas have been delighted to welcome the arrival of Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour. In the United States, 3.5 million fans applied for the 2.6 million tickets that were available to see her perform live. That means there is a substantial audience eager to see her on the silver screen in this 170-minute show, shot over three nights in Los Angeles earlier this year.
The film was released on October 13. Apparently 13 is her favourite number (she was born on December 13), which is why ticket prices for children were set at £13.13. Adult tickets cost £19.89, a nod to her most recent album, 1989, which last week became the biggest-selling album in the US since Adele’s 25 in 2015. I say most recent album but 1989 was initially released in 2014. Subsequently, a huge bust-up with her former record company has caused her to re-record her earlier albums with the words ‘Taylor’s Version’ added to the titles. As well as being a fabulous song-writer and stupendous performer, she is clearly a very determined young (33) woman.
The weekend the film opened, it was screened at over 8,500 cinemas in over 100 countries. The success of the her tour has confirmed her status as a billionaire, this solely on the basis of her music rather than other business ventures. A cinema executive described her to the Financial Times as a “unicorn” and “not a template for how concert movies in general were going to perform”.
Oh, yes. The performance. It begins with a clock, ticking down from 13 (obviously) seconds, and then she is into Miss America & the Heartbreak Prince from her 2019 album, Lover. Throughout the concert she runs through several costume changes to reflect the album (the ‘era’) she is singing a song from. She is a sensational performer and the camerawork is terrific; overall, take a bow, too, the director, Sam Wrench. Swift has a tremendous repertoire but from a personal perspective I was disappointed about some of the omissions from the set – no Change from Fearless, no State of Grace from Red, no Say Don’t Go from 1989 – but then I am emphatically not her target audience. Oh, and also not shown is The Archer from Lover, which was one of five songs sacrificed in order to make the running time 10 minutes less than Oppenheimer.
OK, I made that bit up as the reason for the edits, but I think they should have included all the songs so as to give a total representation of the show. And one other thing. Unlike attendees at the ‘real’ concerts in the UK next summer, after you have finished watching this gig on the big screen you can enjoy a journey home without the hassle of competing with tens of thousands of other people heading for the exits.