Ooh, look what you made her do! After months of justifiable frustration over the scarcity of affordable tickets to Taylor Swift’s now iconic Eras concert tour, the arguably reigning queen of pop is bringing her show to multiplexes around North America… and it’s still proving impossible to get tickets.
In what amounted to a starting bell ringing in Swiftie fans’ ears, tickets went on surprise sale this morning for a previously unannounced concert film of Swift’s Eras tour—and as of press time, the film is playing in North American theater chains AMC, Regal, and Cinemark, beginning on Friday, Oct. 13. But if you wanted to get tickets to that opening weekend, and you’re only learning about this right now, chances are you’ve already missed your chance to see it.
The Taylor Swift film has proved so exciting, in fact, that it’s achieved what no film in 2023 could dream of. No, not Mario, not Marvel, and not even the combined zeitgeist-defining thrill of Greta Gerwig’s Barbie and Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer could crash the website of the largest theater chain in North America, but here we are several hours removed from AMC Theatres’ website being overwhelmed to the point of breaking for much of Thursday morning.
Over the last several hours, the mass surge of Tay Tay fans proved so immense for AMC’s servers that moviegoers hoping to buy tickets to anything today were met with waiting queues before they could access the site. For evidence, below are the social media screengrabs testifying to the hurdles fans and influencers alike faced.
While not as bad as ticket sellers and digital scalpers using bots to essentially corner the market on Eras tickets—a phenomenon so infuriating for the pop star’s fans that the U.S. Senate held hearings which nominally investigated Ticketmaster—the difficulty in obtaining tickets to the concert film still gives a taste of the full Eras experience to everyone. AMC Theatres’ site was eventually able right the ship, but it came only after nearly every ticket on that opening weekend had been sold out, save for the occasional seat which is reserved for those needing handicap assistance. Below is one such North Carolinian fan’s experience with finding a seat.
And speaking anecdotally, despite having an overabundance of AMC Theatres in New York City, after just looking, I too could not find an open seat no matter the location or the showtime (with many cinemas having multiple screens playing the film up to four showings a day).
The boost in enthusiasm for moviegoing could not have come at a better time for AMC either. Earlier this month, AMC Entertainment reported a sales increase of 15 percent for the second quarter of the year (April through June). In other words, even without the two-headed triumph of Barbenheimer, AMC was making money from its highest quarterly attendance since before the pandemic in 2019. Nevertheless, AMC CEO Adam Arnon cautioned a grim future when he said, “There are real and potentially severe liquidity hurdles on the horizon that we will need to overcome.”
For many tech enthusiasts, this is a sign of the inevitable march of progress, with streaming continuing to supplant cinema. However, we might point out it is perhaps a better reflection of the amount of debt even the biggest theater chain in the U.S. incurred during the pandemic, as well as the fact that despite Barbenheimer’s joint success, film studios seem hellbent on triggering another year of delays and paucity of theatrical releases due to a refusal by the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) to fairly pay and protect their writers and actors.
Some may say the death of cinema is therefore inevitable, but if so, Ms. Swift just proved it’s laughing up at us from hell.