May 24, 2024

Taylor Swift‘s concert movie blockbuster “The Eras Tour” got a shout out from none other than Christopher Nolan during a recent City University of New York event in which the director and his producer and wife Emma Thomas were interviewed by author Kai Bird. It was Bird’s book “American Prometheus” that Nolan adapted into “Oppenheimer,” which is the highest-grossing biopic in film history with $942 million at the worldwide box office.

The CUNY discussion took place Oct. 11, just a few days before Swift’s “The Eras Tour” opened in theaters and grossed $92.8 million in North America and $123.5 million globally, easily the biggest debut ever for a concert film. It’s also the second-highest grossing October opening in history (trailing only “Joker” at $96 million) and the seventh-biggest opening weekend of 2023. The release was unusual as Swift sidestepped the major Hollywood streamers and studios and partnered directly with AMC Theatres to distribute the film. Nolan commended Swift for the business move.

“Taylor Swift is about to show the studios, because her concert film is not being distributed by the studios, it’s being distributed by a theater owner, AMC, and it’s going to make an enormous amount of money,” Nolan said. “And this is the thing, [theatrical exhibition is] a format and a way of seeing things and sharing stories, or sharing experiences, that’s incredibly valuable. And if [the studios] don’t want it, somebody else will. So that’s just the truth of it.”

As reported by Variety: Swift self-produced the film and worked out a deal with AMC Theatres in which she gets to take home about 57% of ticket sales, with theaters keeping the remaining revenues and AMC taking a small distribution fee.The film isn’t exclusive to AMC venues; it opened in 3,855 theaters throughout the U.S. and Canada and 4,527 venues internationally. Swift stands to make north of $60 million thanks to the AMC deal.

Both “Oppenheimer” and “The Eras Tour” emerging as blockbusters prove the theatrical business is far from dead and hinges upon new and exciting experiences for moviegoers.

“Any time a film succeeds that wasn’t expected to succeed, it’s an encouraging thing for Hollywood and it’s encouraging for filmmakers,” Nolan said at the CUNY event when asked about that humungous “Oppenheimer” gross. “There’s a tension in Hollywood between the familiar and what is predicted to make money, that’s the meat and potatoes of how the studios stay in business, and the desire among audiences for something new, something fresh.”

“Any time a film that isn’t expected to succeed, and we vastly exceeded our highest expectations for the project, it’s encouraging for the studios and the filmmakers,” Nolan added. “That tension, that reality… between commerce and art, that formula never changes in Hollywood.”

“Oppenheimer” will be available on digital platforms starting Nov. 21. Watch Nolan’s full appearance at the CUNY event in the video below.

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