Review: ‘Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour’ Deserves Rave Reviews And Perfect Audience Score – Forbes

Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour has arrived to blockbuster box office, and the film deserves its rave reviews (100% at Rotten Tomatoes) and perfect A+ audience score.
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – OCTOBER 11: (L-R) Beyoncé Knowles-Carter and Taylor Swift attend the … [+] “Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour” Concert Movie World Premiere at AMC The Grove 14 on October 11, 2023 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by John Shearer/Getty Images for TAS)
On track for a $100 million domestic bow, The Eras Tour was trying hard to set a new opening record for October — the current record of $39.35 million was set by Joker in 2019 — but it may have fallen just shy of that crown.
No matter, Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour will still become the highest grossing concert film in history by end of business Sunday, easily topping Justin Bieber: Never Say Never’s $73 million domestic and $99 million global cumes from 2011.
International figures aren’t available yet, but it looks like Swift is still on track for roughly $50 million from foreign markets. But early word is that The Eras Tour is performing strong around the world, with the UK and Ireland for example reporting the film easily topped weekend charts.
I think the film had potential to open higher, and for the final gross to be bigger, if theaters had been better prepared and capable of living up to the promise of Swift’s premise. At the theater where I saw The Eras Tour, there was no setup in the lobby promoting the film, no tail-gait parties in the parking lot, no hype by the theater itself to energize the audience and turn this into a shared-experience event for crowds. Even the collectable cups and popcorn tubs for The Eras Tour hadn’t shown up, so customers in the long concessions lines were disappointed to miss out.
This isn’t the fault of the film or of Swift, mind you. My point is, there is a big opportunity for this to be more than just a one-time “lightning in a bottle” moment for concert films.
The Eras Tour delivered the goods, a huge spectacle of not only terrific music and elaborately mind-blowing stage show, but also of the close bond between artist and audience. Half the theater was standing up at any given moment, singing and dancing along as if they were at the live concert. Fans were decked out in sparkling costumes and other outfits to celebrate their love of Swift — and of each other, as this crowd acted like they were all best friends showing up for a weekly hangout.
But theaters need to build the sense of attending a concert, while highlighting how cinema brings unique benefits not available at a live show. In particular, premium theaters like IMAX and Dolby Cinemas have visuals, colors, and audio that makes you feel present and immersed, sometimes better than at a real concert, while the temperatures and seats and access are far more comfortable and easy to reach.
Then there’s the pricing, where a movie ticket to The Eras Tour will run you maybe $15-20, as opposed to paying hundreds of dollars to attend a live show. The more theaters can provide an added physical in-person experience that enhances the concert film and lives up to fans’ hopes of feeling something on par with that live energy and show, they can win over generations of fans who are ready and willing to embrace alternatives to outrageously high concert ticket pricing and the headaches that accompany attendance at live venues — parking, too crowded, nosebleed seats, weather, and of course ever-present Covid.
For her next concert tour, Swift will hopefully see theaters aren’t able to wrap their heads around what she’s accomplishing or the full potential for turning theater venues into mini-concerts every night, so she needs to partner with the folks who get it and can make it live up to the full promise of the premise. That means merchandise, parties in the parking lot, decorations, Swift’s music playing in the lobby, employees dressed up for the occasion — put as much effort into it as Swift and her fans are, in other words.
Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour will still be a massive hit topping at least $200 million worldwide by the end of its run and probably closer to $250-300 million.
And it’s not hard to see why. The Eras Tour film is a powerhouse performance by an artist at the peak of her power and talents, a journey through her young-adult and adult life as a singer-songwriter who’s lived much of her personal life in public with a fanbase that lived, loved, and grew up with her.
The Eras Tour not only showcases Swift’s musical gifts and outstanding business sense (she has the biggest concert tour in history, took back the master rights to her song library, made her own deal with theaters to distribute her movie, and has remained firmly in charge of her public persona and decisions about changing her musical approach. It points a spotlight at Swift’s relationship with her music and fans, and their relationship with her and her music. And that’s where the magic happens.
This isn’t just fans who love songs and a musician who says they love their fans. Swift has been recording music for 20 years, starting as a young teenager who built a fanbase by singing honest, personal songs that other young fans could relate to. Swift’s music is among the most revealing and raw, emotionally charged revelatory songwriting around, comparable perhaps to Eminem in that regard (and in terms of complex, long-syllable turns of phrases and verses).
Swift has lived her life in public, not only in her music but also with constant social media presence and updates, willingness to venture into public and take photos with fans, and a media presence that has obsessively followed her and her love life as if it were breaking world news. Often this resulted in the usual shallow backlash from a society that loves nothing more than to taunt, abuse, harass, and insult young girls and women who dare live their lives as if they expect to be treated with equality and respect.
The obnoxiousness of entertainment press and immorality of paparazzi stalkers who helped ruin Britney Spears’ life (and Lindsay Lohan’s, and so many others — as well as the many lives they tried hard but failed to ruin) is ever-present and will always zero in on any woman star who speaks her mind and refuses to conform to trite, backward, misogynistic attitudes. Swift, however, smartly hit right back at them, not only by speaking out about it but also by singing about it — and getting her fans to sing and talk about it.
And this is something that comes through again and again in The Eras Tour movie. Swift tells her audience to never, ever let other people tell them who they are or what they should do. She tells them they are the masters of their own destiny, that the ignorant sneering hypocrisies of a sexist racist society are just the weak, scared efforts of an inadequate system incapable of holding back girls’ and women’s strength and demands. She tells them kindness, equality, diversity, truth, and standing up for yourself are good things to be nurtured and encouraged, and that if anyone objects they can show themselves out — and definitely do let the door hit ya on the way out.
Growing up with her, her music becoming the soundtrack to their lives, and then facing the same sorts of obstacles and biases in adult life that Swift faces and sings about, and finally looking around today at the forces of division and persecution seeking to deny women basic fundamental human rights and equality while Swift sings and talks openly about the duty to fight back and oppose such evil, this is a fanbase that introduced the next generation to Swift’s music and messages, too. And the base grew, and they related, and they felt like they knew Swift personally — because they do, because she wants them to and invites them to.
They may not literally be Swift’s “friends,” but Swift has certainly been a great friend to them, better in fact than many people they encounter day to day. They love her for it. Swift knows this, and she loves them back for it. I don’t think this was ever just about becoming successful, I think Swift early on wanted desperately to reach out and make a connection with other people through her music, to feel seen and heard and understood, but also increasingly to make her fans feel seen and heard and understood.
When the most powerful, famous person on the planet is talking about their life and it sounds a lot like how you feel and what you experience, you feel seen and validated. When a crowd of 100,000 other people are right there with you, feeling it too, seeing you and being seen by you — that’s not just a fanbase, it’s a movement.
While on stage and often in her more fame-like moments with other celebrities, Swift is certainly displaying plenty of shine and glamour, and fans certainly love to see it and mimic it in their own bright, colorful outfits. But it’s the rest of the time, when Swift is on Tik Tok posting videos looking like any other regular person in lounge-around clothes and unstyled hairdos, or talking about anxiety or other very normal things average people experience, that cements the bonds between artist and fans. Swift has maintained that attitude of a regular person who refuses to let the hype and industry and fame force her into becoming someone else.
She fought hard not to lose herself amid the stardom, and part of that requires knowing yourself. Self-examination is central to Swift’s persona and music, and it helps her listeners — especially the younger ones — identify with that sense of being unsure who you are at times, or who you want to be and who you don’t want to become. It’s hard enough without all of the additional struggles and unfairness and hypocrisy of the world, and Swift helps make it easier for her fans, giving them encouragement and confidence to explore life, to ask questions, and to define themselves as who they are instead of who society tells them they have to be.
Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour is all of this, and much more. And I haven’t even really gotten to the specifics of the music yet, so let’s dive into that now.
Cutting across multiple genres of music — country, pop, folk, and a bit of electronic — Swift’s five-album performance is a tour de force of brilliant merger of catchy rhythms and hooks with deliberate, thoughtful lyrics more complicated than you might recognize at first glance. Even some of the most danceable tunes feature elaborate stories and reveals.
Indeed, my personal favorite album is Folklore, and in The Eras Tour these song selections were mesmerizing and became larger than life. This is true of every piece of music, in fact. However great Swift’s music is at face value, the concert performance setting and camera work and direction of the film render it all larger than life, transcending the music itself.
The pacing of Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour is impeccable, nearly three hours racing by yet also feeling like a full, all-encompassing experience. She knows just when to ramp things up, and when to slow them down. She talks repeatedly to the audience between songs, setting up the next piece and explaining a lot about where the inspirations and influences came from, and even these personal moments between Swift and the audience feel right on time, placed exactly where they should be.
Part of her personality that generates so much adoration and respect was also on display — Swift made sure the dancers and background vocalists all got their time to shine, alternating who was in the spotlight and at the front, as well as making sure to bring them all out for the curtain call and applause at the end. The sense of camaraderie was palpable throughout the show, and this end capper was a lovely way to put the fine point on it — everyone is a big, happy family, including the audience.
Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour movie is everything fans could hope for, and everything non-fans need to become fans, a masterful example of what concert cinema can and should be.
It’s tempting to reference Swift’s song and say, “Taylor is The Man!” But give the woman her due — with her work, talent, success, and the courage to say and do what she thinks is right, the truth is she’s much more than The Man. She’s The Woman.

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Sim

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