Swifties flock to Leicester Square as Taylor Swift’s box office smash lands in UK

Taylor Swift, having conquered the music world, is planning to do the same at the box office, with the pop juggernaut’s new concert film expected to be the highest-grossing movie in UK cinemas this weekend.

Excited “Swifties” flocked to the Odeon Leicester Square in London for the opening night screening on Friday, gathering outside an hour in advance, eager for a first look at the Eras spectacular. The concert tour began this summer in the US but will not reach the UK until June next year.

Filmed over the first three nights of her run at the SoFi Stadium in California in August, The Eras Tour film will be screened in more than 100 countries.

Tickets are priced from £13.13, a nod to Swift’s birthday on 13 December 1989 and to her lucky number. With singing and dancing allowed in screenings, Swifties have found a way to make a night at the movies an affordable way to (almost) be there.

The singer’s army of followers have already set the hefty 2-hour 48-minute film on its way to becoming the biggest concert movie in history, with global pre-sales passing the £100m mark.

The Eras Tour film is also forecast to take more at the UK box office this weekend than current releases featuring Hollywood stars such as Denzel Washington, Kenneth Branagh, Michael Caine, Glenda Jackson and Jamie Dornan.

Sam Stacey awaits the first screening of ‘Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour’, outside Odeon Leicester Square in London.
Sam Stacey, 24, had travelled from Kent. Photograph: David Levene/The Guardian

Tim Richards, the founder and chief executive of Vue, Europe’s largest privately owned cinema chain, said: “Taylor Swift’s The Eras Tour is on track to be No 1 at the box office this weekend, after a record-breaking opening week of pre-sales for a concert.”

The takings will be confirmed once the first official UK box office figures are reported on Tuesday.

In scenes reminiscent of the cultural phenomenon that surrounded the blockbuster film Barbie, fans arrived early to secure their Eras-branded cup and popcorn bucket after reading TikTok rumours that they had sold out at some showings.

Cinemagoers shared their love for Swift’s music, as well as their appreciation for the friendly and inclusive community that has developed around her. Sam Stacey, 24, had travelled from Kent with a bag full of colourful friendship bracelets he was looking forward to sharing with fellow fans. He has tickets for the Eras tour in London next year, but was unconcerned about spoilers as he’s watched TikTok streams of all of Swift’s gigs so far.

“Every show is different,” he said. He has been a dedicated Swiftie since 2015 and runs a fan account on X. “I like the sense of community. Swifties are very nice, very friendly, and open to everyone.”

His views were shared by Alice Turner, 20, a student in London from Selsey, West Sussex, and a “borderline [Swift] obsessive”. She was attending alone but unafraid: “I know I will meet people.”

Alice Kanu (right) and Kim Adjet.
Alice Kanu (right) and Kim Adjet are ‘100% Swifties’. Photograph: David Levene/The Guardian

Turner has tickets for the tour next year, but did not want to wait until then to take part. “I thought I would go now and experience it,” she said.

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Friends Alice Kanu and Kim Adjet, both 16 and from London, were waiting outside with diamante tattoos commemorating Swift’s album 13. “We’re 100% Swifties,” they chorused, adding that there were lots of other fans at their school.

Adjet said she had made lots of friends through the online community, with whom she regularly discusses Swift’s music and had introduced Kanu to it. Adjet has tickets for the concert next year, and thought it would be “exciting to see her in the cinema and in real life”, but Kanu doesn’t have tickets. “I’m really sad, I’ll have to live vicariously,” she said.

Earlier this week, the US distributor of the film said pre-sales had already put Eras on track to being one of the biggest films of the year, assuming fan interest holds for the length of its cinema run.

The record for the highest-grossing global concert cinema event is held by the Korean boyband BTS. Michael Jackson and One Direction laid claim to the highest-grossing concert documentaries to hit UK cinemas, but Swift’s film is on track to smash past them.

Taylor Swift friendship bracelets.
Taylor Swift friendship bracelets. Photograph: David Levene/The Guardian

Just how the 33-year-old beat Hollywood at its own game is down to Swift’s superstardom, a combination of being the biggest live act on the planet and a harsh lesson in ticket economics amid the cost of living crisis.

“Taylor Swift is an industry and clearly has the Midas touch,” says Josh Berger, the former president of Warner Bros UK, Ireland and Spain, who led the Harry Potter franchise effort, and has now launched the London-based Battersea Entertainment.

Swift, who is about to finish the US leg of her Eras tour before heading to Europe next year, is expected to gross more than $1.4bn (£1.15bn) in ticket sales, merchandise and other revenue streams from the stadium circuit, surpassing Elton John’s almost completed Farewell Yellow Brick Road tour.


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