Pop power: can Taylor Swift and Beyoncé save the year for cinemas?

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In mid-May, Taylor Swift’s father Scott called up his friend Joe Kernen, a veteran CNBC anchor, with a dilemma. The first leg of his pop star daughter’s record-breaking 52-stop US “Eras” tour was in full swing, blazing a path towards a projected $1.5bn in global revenues, but Swift’s management was struggling to find a suitable Hollywood distributor for a film of the concert. Swift’s team wanted a quick release for the movie to satisfy the unquenchable demand from her fans, who had crashed TicketMaster’s site with 3.5bn ticket requests on the first sale day, but Hollywood’s slow-moving studio machine had suggested release dates as far away as 2025. Kernen put Swift’s father in touch with Adam Aron, chief executive of cinema chain AMC and over the course of the next few months an unlikely deal was born between the world’s second-most streamed pop star and two of the biggest US cinema exhibitors that will from next week launch Swift’s 160-minute film in nearly 4,000 theatres across North America and thousands more worldwide. As cinema operators face up to a sparse winter film slate, hollowed out yet further by the SAG-AFTRA union strike that prevents actors from promoting films and has led to winter blockbusters such as Dune: Part Two being pushed back to next year, Swift’s concert film will provide a much-needed financial boost. Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour has sold more than $100mn worth of advance tickets globally, according to figures cited by AMC on Thursday. The film is projected to gross approaching $240mn domestically over its four-week run in North American cinemas, putting it among the top-10 best performing movies of the year, according to box office forecaster Cinelytic. Earlier this week, Beyoncé also announced that she had struck a deal with AMC to bring her Renaissance tour film to screens in December.

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