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The Eras Tour film will have you – like Taylor Swift herself – dancing in the aisles

Taylor Swift encouraged her audience to 'sing and dance' in the cinema
Taylor Swift encouraged her audience to 'sing and dance' in the cinema

If Barbie versus Oppenheimer was the box office duel of the summer, then last night’s world premiere of the Taylor Swift movie proved that she’s a one-woman Barbenheimer – a glittery, sparkly blonde and an atomic force obliterating everything in its path, all rolled into one.

Even before Friday’s global release of Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour – the concert film documenting the North American leg of her record-breaking world tour – we were told how huge the numbers were. Over £80 million taken in advance worldwide bookings; the second-highest pre-sale tally of any film in US history (beaten only by the Marvel movie, Avengers: Endgame) and mobile ticketing apps crashing under the sheer weight of demand. But nothing quite prepares you for the Swiftian tidal wave up close.

The venue – LA’s popular outdoor shopping mall, The Grove – was completely shut down for the day as all 14 of its theatres premiered the film for 2,200 fans, ‘handpicked’ by Swift’s team. By 4pm the place was already awash with them, hoping to catch a glimpse of their idol.

And unlike the ex-boyfriends of whom she frequently sings, she didn’t disappoint. Up she rocked in a sky-blue strapless Oscar de la Renta gown, blowing kisses and posing for selfies with her devoted fans, who promptly lost their collective minds. “If I look at her, I’m going to cry,” said Rae Patton, a 49-year-old from Austin, Texas, who has already been to three of Swift’s Eras Tour concerts, spending a couple of thousand dollars in the process. “I’m financially broke, but I don’t care. You only get one life and I love her.”

The movie, filmed largely across three of her concerts at California’s SoFi Stadium in August, is a consolation prize of sorts for those fans – Swifties, in common parlance – unable to get tickets to her shows. And quite the consolation it was for anyone sitting in Theatre 2. In Swift came telling everyone how proud she was of the film before plonking herself down in the middle row to watch it with her backing singers. The girl next to me looked like she was about to faint.

Beyoncé and Taylor Swift
Beyoncé and Taylor Swift - Getty

The film itself is as pulsating and slick as you’d expect of any Taylor Swift production, taking the audience on a whirlwind tour of around 40 songs from her 10 studio albums, including hits such as Shake It Off and, a particular audience favourite, the 10-minute All Too Well. Unless you’re a devoted fan, concert films can be a rather dreary experience but the sheer spectacle and energy of the her film is enough to convert even the most rabid anti-Swiftite.

The usual request to the assembled cinema-goers to switch off their mobile phones had been unceremoniously shelved in favour of Swift’s decree that ‘singing and dancing’ be encouraged while watching the film. And clad in Taylor-approved attire – sparkly dresses, cowboy boots and even the odd ballgown – the audience obeyed in almost deafening unison. Much of the noise came from Swift’s own corner as she and her posse finger-pointed and bobbed along to most of the numbers. We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together, said to be about former boyfriend Jake Gyllenhaal, seemed a particular favourite.

Taylor Swift with her dancers and band at the premiere for The Eras Tour concert film
Taylor Swift with her dancers and band at the premiere for The Eras Tour concert film - Getty

Sam Wrench, the film’s British director, who had previously helmed concert films for Billie Eilish and Lizzo, clearly knows how to capture the energy of a live experience, though the film was strangely devoid of any extras such as interviews or backstage wobbles. The film does end though with a montage of fan photos and Swift’s (rare) concert gaffs. She wears a lot of sequins – it’s only natural she gets snagged up occasionally.

Many fans at the premiere had already attended one of her recent live shows, but apparently, there’s no such thing as Taylor fatigue. An excitable bunch, they shrieked at just about everything in sight, from the Taylor-themed popcorn to celeb sightings, which went from the sublime (Beyoncé) to Flavor Flav – a rapper known largely for wearing a large clock around his neck.

Taylor Swift posing with fans at the Los Angeles premiere of the Eras Tour film
Taylor Swift posing with fans at the Los Angeles premiere of the Eras Tour film - Getty

“I would love to work with Taylor,” he says. “If she’d do a song with me, I’d be down with that.” Notably missing from the action though was American footballer Travis Kelce, the 33-year-old’s current beau, whose romance with Tay Tay sent some of her more protective followers into overdrive. “He should have been here to support her,” one perturbed fan scolded, despite the fact he was 1,500 miles away prepping for a possible game later today.

Swifties can be an unforgiving lot. Jessica Golich, a 34-year-old Tik Toker from Detroit, arrived in LA three days ago, “to prepare my body for this with massages and stuff. What I love about Taylor is that she’s so well-rounded and grounded for someone with Beatlemania-level fame.”

Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour concert film received its world premiere at The Grove in Los Angeles
Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour concert film received its world premiere at The Grove in Los Angeles - AFP

Though the film is shorter than her marathon 200-minute live concerts, it still clocks in at two hours 48 minutes – some 49 minutes longer than Citizen Kane. And like Citizen Kane, Taylor loves a bit of symbolism. Ticket prices for standard screenings in the US have been pre-set at $19.89 for adults (a reference to her birth year) and $13.13 for children (a homage to her lucky number, 13). The devil’s in the details, she sang in her 2020 song, Peace. Swift doesn’t muck around.

Currently on a break from her world tour, which is due to reach the UK next June and is already projected to bring in an astonishing £1.1 billion by the time it grinds to a halt next November, she was eager to release the film as quickly as possible – no doubt wanting to harness the energy generated by the collective Taylor Swift fan experience. It meant bypassing the traditional Hollywood studios, who wanted her to wait till the end of the tour’s run, and striking a deal directly with the US cinema chain, AMC, to distribute her movie (the theatres will take 43 per cent of the gross, with Swift and AMC splitting the rest).

Terrified of the competition, other films including the new Exorcist reboot and the Pete Davidson movie, Dumb Money, promptly switched their own release dates. A sensible decision judging by last night’s scenes: the Swift steamroller shows no sign of stopping, like, ever. “I think she’s uplifted the world and she’s just such a force,” said Jessica. “I mean, how many people do you know who have the power to shut down an entire shopping mall?”


Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour is out in the UK on October 13