By any standards — other than the over-the-top, pre-release hype — “Taylor Swift The Eras Tour” (Variance/AMC) provided a spectacular initial weekend with an estimated $96 million gross. Foreign estimates are $31 million-$33 million, which would reflect the anticipated 75/25 percent split.

To put it in perspective, and how badly theaters needed this success: “Eras” grossed more than the total of any film released since August 2, over two months ago. “Barbie” and “Oppenheimer”were brilliant (about $960 million domestic, combined), but the follow-up hasn’t been encouraging.

AMC Theatres, overseeing domestic distribution of the film (Variance handles actual bookings), estimates say that the weekend will gross $95 million – $97 million. It’s unusual for a distributor to provide a range rather than specific number, but this is a case with few precedents (and, with so much of coming from pre-sales).

It seems churlish to describe “Eras” ($96 million on a $15 million production budget!) as any kind of shortfall, but the reason pundits seemed to accept $100 million-plus as a given is they underestimated the intensity of Swiftie presales. Under normal patterns, the AMC-reported worldwide advance of $100 million (no breakdown for domestic vs. foreign) suggested it could reach $125 million with theaters. Like everything else about “Eras,” this calculus operated under different rules.

“Eras” is uncharted territory, but our assessment is “Eras” is a front-loaded title that may see above-average falloff even with its A+ Cinemascore. This is especially true since the film will not have Monday-Wednesday play. At this point, domestic projects to the $150 million-$175 million range with a big caveat that we don’t know if word of mouth, repeat viewings, and the $19.89 price might put it higher.

“Joker”Warner Bros.

At $96 million, “Eras” would fall just short of “Joker” ($96.2 million) as best October opening. However, brings a heavily weighted scale with its higher ticket price. Swift’s film drew about five million viewers; “Joker,” which had average ticket prices of $9 in 2019, sold about 10 million.

Already, “Eras” is the unadjusted the biggest-grossing concert film by a single performer. “Justin Bieber: Never Say Never” in 2011 grossed $73 million (adjusted: over $100 million). “Woodstock” in 1970 (adjusted gross: $350 million) should remain unmatched as top concert film.

Though exhibition leader AMC Theatres normally dominates top grosses for #1 films, its “Eras” performance reflected the built-in advantage of early pre-sale availability For Friday, AMC had 94 of the top 100 grosses, per industry sources. (Regal had five, Cinemark one.)

A now-it-makes-more-sense note: That last-minute decision to add Thursday previews and Friday daytime shows may have stemmed from a push to reach $100 million. It didn’t quite work, but at least would give a logical reason for what was a strange move.

The weekend’s total gross of $136 million is far better than last year’s $77 million, with October now up around 30 percent (about $96 million) month to date in 2022. We don’t expect that margin to remain, since last year saw “Black Adam” open later. The “Eras” hold and Martin Scorsese’s “Killers of the Flower Moon” (Paramount), which opens next Friday, will determine the month’s performance. Year to date remains 26 percent higher.

The heavily female-skewing interest in “Eras” and no other new openings meant some better-than-average holds and “The Exorcist: Believer” (Universal) was not among them. It fell 58 percent and it’s still #2 with $11 million.

“Saw X” (Lionsgate) spent its third weekend in fourth place and kept its drop to 27 percent, which is exceptional for a horror title. It now is over $40 million, and might end up close to “Believer.”

“A Haunting in Venice” (Disney) held best, down only 24 percent at #6. “The Creator” (Disney), #5, fell 31 percent. “PAW Patrol: The Mighty Movie” held on to #3, falling 38 percent.

"Anatomy of a Fall"
“Anatomy of a Fall“Courtesy Neon

In a weekend when most distributors opted to back away, Neon smartly went ahead with “Anatomy of a Fall” in five theaters across three cities (New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco) and grossed $125,000. Its three New York/Los Angeles theaters will end up with a weekend per-theater average of around $31,000. Film-festival commitments delayed its second New York date at Film at Lincoln Center until October TK.

Platform results don’t guarantee wider success, but in the absence of much competition (although “Killers” will appeal to the same audience), “Anatomy” is well positioned.

“Dicks: The Musical” (A24) saw a modest initial expansion with $94,677 in 15 theaters. Among other openers, Godfrey Reggio’s “Once Upon a Time” (Utopia), only 52 minutes long, took in $12,000 in a single New York theater.

The Top 10

1. Taylor Swift The Eras Tour (Variance for AMC) NEW – Cinemascore: A+; Metacritic: 89; Est. budget: $15 million

$96,000,000 in 3,850 theaters; PTA (per theater average): $24,935; Cumulative: $96,000,000

2. The Exorcist: Believer (Universal) Week 2 – Last week #1

$11,000,000 (-58%) in 3,684 (+21) theaters; PTA: $2,986; Cumulative: $44,927,000

3. PAW Patrol: The Mighty Movie (Par) Week 3; Last weekend #2

$7,000,000 (-38%) in 3,707 (-320) theaters; PTA: $1,888; Cumulative: $49,887,000

4. Saw X (Lionsgate) Week 3; Last weekend #3

$5,700,000 (-27%) in 3,058 (-204) theaters; PTA: $1,864; Cumulative: $41,400,000

5. The Creator (Disney) Week 3; Last weekend #4

$4,300,000 (-1,453%) in 2,960 (-720) theaters; PTA: $1,453; Cumulative: $32,406,000

6. A Haunting in Venice (Disney) Week 5; Last weekend #6

$2,052,000 (-24%) in 2,290 (-135) theaters; PTA: $896; Cumulative: $38,994,000

7. The Blind (Fathom) Week 3; Last weekend #5

$2,023,000 (-37%) in 1,165 (-142) theaters; PTA: $1,735; Cumulative: $13,334,000

8. The Nun II (WB) Week 6; Last weekend #7; also on PVOD

$1,615,000 (-38%) in 2,128 (-364) theaters; PTA: $759; Cumulative: $83,748,000

9. The Equalizer 3 (Sony) Week 7; Last weekend #9; also on PVOD

$960,000 (-47%) in 1,524 (-2) theaters; PTA: $630; Cumulative: $90,567,000

10. Dumb Money (Sony) Week 5; Last weekend #8

$920,000 (-57%) in 2,276 (-561) theaters; PTA: $404; Cumulative: $12,626,000

Other specialized titles

Films (limited, expansions of limited, as well as awards-oriented releases) are listed by week in release, starting with those opened this week; after the first three weeks, only films with grosses over $5,000 are listed.Metacritic scores and film festivals lists as listed.

Anatomy of a Fall (Neon) NEW – Metacritic: 86; Festivals include: Cannes, Toronto, New York 2023

$125,377 in 5 theaters; PTA: $25,075

Once Within a Time (Oscilloscope) NEW

$12,250 in 1 theater; PTA: $12,250

Divinity (Utopia) NEW – Metacritic: 73; Festivals include: Sundance 2023

$6,003 in 1 theater; PTA: $6,003

The Mission (Picturehouse) NEW – Metacritic: 75; Festivals include: Telluride 2023

$26,445 in 8 theaters; PTA: $3,307; Cumulative: $29,893

Dicks: The Musical (A24) Week 2

$94,677 in 15 (+8) theaters; PTA: $6,312; Cumulative: $354,180

The Royal Hotel (Neon) Week 2

$139,000 in 273 (+6) theaters; PTA: $509; Cumulative: $644,502

Joan Baez I Am a Noise (Magnolia) Week 2

$143,000 in 111 (+110) theaters; PTA: $; Cumulative: $(est.) $169,000

A Strange Way of Life (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 2

$70,145 in 158 (-118) theaters; PTA: $444; Cumulative: $375,792

Common Ground (Area 23) Week 3

$6,200 in 6 (no change) theaters; Cumulative: $108,929

Stop Making Sense (A24) (reissue) Week 4

$171,037 in 258 (-269) theaters; Cumulative: $4,497,000 (reissue only)

My Big Fat Greek Wedding 3 (Focus) Week 5; also on PVOD

$295,000 in 610 (-173) theaters; Cumulative: $28,132,000

Talk to Me (A24) Week 11; also on PVOD

$54,271 in 60 (-35) theaters; Cumulative: $48,192,000

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