Thursday’s announcement that AMC Theatres is partnering with Taylor Swift to present Taylor Swift / The Eras Tour Concert Film in thousands of North American cinemas starting Oct. 13 was a blockbuster — both in terms of cultural impact and ticket sales, which broke AMC’s record for single-day advance revenue with $26 million in the first 24 hours.
And according to a new report at Puck, the unorthodox deal that bypasses traditional studios and instead release the film directly in cinemas with AMC Theatres acting as distributor came about only after discussions with traditional distributors, including Universal Pictures, broke down.
The story claims that talks with AMC Theatres began more than three months ago — while Swift was already in the midst of her smash Eras Tour in the United States and before the concert film was shot at some of the Los Angeles shows in August — after AMC CEO Adam Aron received “a call from a friend who also happened to know [Swift’s father] Scott Swift” that Team Swift was interested in talking.
Citing sources, the report states that Aron personally negotiated the deal directly with Swift’s parents, Scott and Andrea Swift, over several weeks. Among the agreed-upon terms is that 43% of the gross will remain with theaters, while the remaining 57% will be shared (in an undetermined split) by the Swifts and AMC. (Variance Films, a small sub-distributor, was reportedly hired to book the film in Regal, Cinemark and other theaters on a fee-for-service basis.) Notably, standard tickets for the film will be priced at $19.89 (plus tax) for adults and $13.13 for children and seniors (plus tax).
All theaters playing the Sam Wrench-directed film will reportedly also take all concession revenue, including any commemorative Eras Tour items. The story claims that AMC and Cinemark have also ordered four million posters to give away to fans for free, while a “small offering” of paid merchandise is planned.
Other details in the report include that theaters playing the film (which reportedly came in at a budget of between $10 and $20 million) must agree to carry it for a minimum of four weeks and can play it for as many as 26 weeks without worrying that the terms of the deal will change. Additionally, after 13 weeks, the Swifts are free to put the film on streaming services (the streaming rights are still up for grabs).
At least one traditional film studio that had discussed distributing the film with the Swifts was reportedly under the impression that the film would be a 2025 release — after the completion of the tour’s global run — but according to the story, the Swifts decided to strike while fan demand for all things Taylor was at an all-time high.
Speculation that the unusual deal could lead to similar plays by AMC and other exhibitors to act as distributors for other major concert films has been rampant, and indeed, the Puck report notes that “AMC is already talking about what other major artists might want a Taylorstyle deal” — suggesting there may be more of these to come.
Representatives for Taylor Swift and AMC Theatres did not immediately return Billboard‘s requests for comment on this story.