Perhaps the only other film to make waves like that of Barbie and Oppenheimer is Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour. It’s no surprise that happened really, given the hold the Tour has on global phenomena. With Swift establishing herself as a generation-defining popstar, Beyoncé has also released a concert film of her own, Renaissance. Even though it hasn’t eclipsed Swift’s mammoth, study-worthy success, the concert film genre has repaired end-of-2023 Hollywood.
Theaters around the world have seen a surprise surge in profits when Eras released, already meeting its budget in pre-sales. After a good international run, the $10 – 20 million film has earned an astronomical figure of nearly $250 million. She broke Hollywood norms by producing the film herself and distributing it with AMC and Cinemark theaters. This way, she has way less people to split her bounty with. And as is with the Eras tour, die-hard Swifties quickly broke the AMC app with their onslaught. Swift mania is so mighty a power that even big studio films had to move their dates when Swift announced the release of her film. By way of the film, theaters around the world turned into mini Taylor Swift concerts, with people dancing to her setlist.
The theatrical run for Renaissance is slightly muted, but it is a hit nonetheless; this is Queen Bey, after all. The film was released in December, and has now earned a little over $36 million. While Swift has only just earned her cult classic status, Beyoncé has been in this exclusive league for nearly a decade. Also in a classic queen move, Beyoncé is credited as the writer, director, and producer of the movie. She however, did follow the road of direct-distribution method paved by Swift. The Renaissance tour was easily the cultural moment of the year, but it had been wrapped before Swift’s Eras. The latter was still touring when her film hit theaters. The two also erased notions of rivalry between them, as they attended each other’s premiers.
Facts aside, it’s truly a surprise that concert films could end up being such huge hits at a time when people are still wary of going to the theaters. But in essence, both tours of Eras and Renaissance are nothing short of production gems. There’s lights, clouds, pyrotechnics and all that jazz that had made both these events nothing short of being cinema-worthy. Both Swift and Beyoncé had sold out shows in their tours. The former’s album also made her the artist with the most Grammy nominations. So not only are people able to see them in real-life on the stage, they would also be able to have nearly the same experience in the cinemas. It is this near-real life experience that had people turning up in theatres in the same unprecedented numbers. Tickets were a meagre $19.89 and $22 for Eras and Renaissance respectively compared to the nearly 6 times costly concert ticket prices. Only a person oblivious to both artists – are there, really? – would miss out on an opportunity like this.
The films are cultural phenomena in their full right. It is not often that a musician, even of the degrees of Swift and Beyoncé, enjoys the same success as them with a concert film. Even One Direction’s (cue sighs of all kinds) Where We Are film – The Concert Film is nowhere near Taylor Swift’s Eras. The band is easily one for the history books, but the film earned only a meagre $15 million. The numbers don’t really speak for the hold it had on pop music back then. With the tour and the film, Swift generated an impact which no celebrity had ever done in their career. That, and her appearances at Travis Kelce’s matches sent her fans into so much of a frenzy, that she was all everybody talked about. Taylor Swift also has the highest-grossing concert tour for this year, with Beyoncé trailing just behind her. Swift had also single handedly breathed temporary life into the travel and hotel industry.
Concert cinemas are redemption for admirers of musicians who do not get to see them in real life. This is especially the case of fans who are in countries these artists have never visited. People were dancing to the film even in theaters in India, which shows their impact. Celebrity culture makes people hungry for more content from artists, in any form. Despite musicians’ obligations to release video songs, they have also had to branch out to the silver screen. The more popular a star, the more footfall the movie gets. Naturally, higher up the box-office charts the film goes.
A concert film can also only have an impact like that of Eras because of the strength of the artist’s fans. Taylor Swift is more visible in the media compared to Beyoncé. Her 2008 hit Love Story suddenly saw a revival in recent years as a social media trend. Most of her tracks have been trending TikTok and reel audio for a long time now. And because of her constantly being in the public’s subconscious, she has risen in ranks of popularity. Swift was particularly seen as every ‘girly-girl’s favorite artists, but men on social media are also now busting moves to her tracks. There was a time when Ye was able to throw shade at Swift for winning Best Video at the VMAs. Had that happened in 2023, Ye would never be able to resuscitate his career, courtesy of the mighty Swifties. Both Swifties and the BeyHive have fans of all ages that will be at the artist’s beck and call. These are not your casual music enthusiasts who like the artist for their music only. These are the ones who have seen these artists transform into their current forms, and know every little public detail.
Both Eras and Renaissance films have caused a reshaping in Hollywood, such that studios are now eager to venture into this genre. Eras is even nominated for a Golden Globe next year, a feat not many musicians have been able to achieve. Concert cinema has wriggled its way through to contemporary cinema, and has now become a field for more experiments, courtesy of Taylor Swift and Beyoncé.