Entertainment

Taylor Swift's new Eras tour film is the latest lesson in 'Swift-onomics'

Taylor Swift's concerts have generated hundreds of millions of dollars for cities they appear in, a phenomenon that some call "Swiftonomics." Now she's releasing a concert film of the show.

Cineplex confirmed the concert movie will play in more than 150 Cineplex theatres

Taylor Swift singing and pointing on stage.
Singer-songwriter Taylor Swift performs during her Eras Tour at SoFi stadium in Inglewood, Calif. She's releasing a concert film of the tour in October. (Michael Tran/AFP/Getty Images)

If you weren't able to secure tickets to see Taylor Swift in concert in 2024 in Toronto, fear not — her Eras tour is coming to Canadian theatres.

On Thursday, Cineplex confirmed the concert film Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour will play in more than 150 Cineplex theatres around the country starting on Oct. 13. The film will play Thursdays to Sundays.

"The Eras Tour has been the most meaningful, electric experience of my life so far, and I'm overjoyed to tell you that it'll be coming to the big screen soon," Swift said on her social media Thursday morning. "Eras attire, friendship bracelets, singing and dancing encouraged… 1, 2, 3 LGB!!!! (iykyk)."

And with dozens of shows — spanning continents — still to go, the Eras World Tour is on pace to become the highest grossing tour of all time. 

One estimate from research company QuestionPro says her tour could generate $4.6 billion for the U.S. economy alone.

The Taylor Swift effect

Swift's two shows in Colorado this summer led to a $186.9-million boost to the state's GDP for the year, a report by the Common Sense Institute found.

A similar boost was reported in Philadelphia after Swift performed three shows there in May. 

"May was the strongest month for hotel revenue in Philadelphia since the onset of the pandemic, in large part due to an influx of guests for the Taylor Swift concerts in the city," the report read. 

It's a phenomenon some people have playfully coined "Swift-onomics."

And experts predict the trend will continue during her Toronto shows. Ticket sales alone for those shows are estimated to reach $120 million, according to Daniel Tsai, a business professor at TMU.

Taylor Swift performing on stage.
Swift performs onstage on the opening night of her Eras tour at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Ariz. Analysts say the tour is generating millions of dollars for local economies. (Kevin Winter/TAS Rights Management/Getty Images)

And it's not just the concerts that are generating money. 

"These are people who are coming from all across Canada, and so that means you're going to have people here who are ready to spend," said Tsai.

"You're bringing your family and you're going to go out, have meals and really spend big money to enjoy the moment."

So how much money is "big money"?

"Probably in the range of $600 to maybe even $800 million Canadian being generated," he said.

"Your spend in the stadium is one thing, but what you do outside of that will be even greater because you have to consider that hotels, for instance, have doubled ... what they're asking for in some cases," he added. 

And while concert films — movies attached to an artist's tour — aren't exactly new, it's something that's having a bit of a moment right now, according to Sydney Urbanek, a culture critic who writes the pop star-centric newsletter Mononym Mythology.

Earlier this month, Metallica's M72 World Tour burst onto the big screen at Canadian cinemas as part of two live broadcasts from Arlington, Texas. 

Experiencing concerts through film

"Pop music has a huge history of being in theatres, whether you're talking about A Hard Day's Night and all The Beatles films in the '60s or, you know, Purple Rain in '84," said Urbanek. 

The resurgence of films centered around concerts can be traced back to Canadian pop star Justin Bieber's Never Say Never, which premiered in 2011, she said. 

The movie followed Bieber during the 10 days leading up to his performance at Madison Square Garden. 

Since then, we've seen stars throughout the 2010s like Katy Perry, One Direction and even Celine Dion, try their hand at the concert movie. 

But as streaming sites became more popular, the trend of concert films being released in theatres slowed. 

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Urbanek points to examples like Beyoncé's Homecoming on Netflix, Kendrick Lamar's The Big Steppers Tour on Amazon Prime and even Taylor Swift's earlier concert film from her Reputation tour, which appeared on Netflix. 

But now, concert films releasing in theatres appear to be making a comeback, said Urbanek. 

"It's like we're getting back in the direction of another one of those waves," she added.

The unique thing about the Eras tour movie, says Urbanek, is its timing. The movie is set to release on Oct. 13. Setting aside the fact the 13 is famously Swift's favourite number, Urbanek noted another interesting aspect at play. 

"That's more than a year before the tour will end. So Canadians will get to see this concert film a whole year before she brings the show to Canada," she said. 

"It might turn out to mean that the show is about to be tweaked." 

These mysteries are all part of what experts say has become a winning marketing strategy for Swift. 

Marketing 'genius' 

From hidden meanings behind lyrics, to anagrams, to cryptic social media posts, Swift has always kept her fans guessing about what's coming next. 

One 2021 post from Swift's Instagram, for example, teased song titles from "the vault" — new tracks on re-released Fearless (Taylor's Version) album.

"She's always been very good at doing Easter eggs ... doing things that feel like they're really made for the fans," said Urbanek. 

"She's a genius at social media marketing," Tsai told CBC News. 

And this combination tour and film is no different. 

"She's talked about how she wants them [fans] to wear Eras tour attire, friendship bracelets," said Urbanek. "So there's definitely this feeling that she's ... trying to replicate the experience of the show with this film."

The pop megastar will be in Toronto for six concerts over a 10-day period at the Rogers Centre in 2024.

"It's like our Super Bowl, it's our Olympics all rolled in one, all centred around Taylor Swift," added Tsai. 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Brock Wilson

Journalist

Brock Wilson is a producer based in Toronto. He can often be found producing episodes for About That with Andrew Chang and writing stories for the web. You can reach him at brock.wilson@cbc.ca.

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