October Insights – Concert Films to the Rescue?

As we’ve highlighted in numerous past months this year, we at Cinelytic have been reviewing the home video and TV revenue projections that we published back in September of 2022 for the full 2023 slate. As shown in the graphic below, updated figures prove that we have maintained our accuracy in relation to our domestic box office (DBO) projections, currently tracking at around 94% through the month of September:

Forecasting film revenue has likely never been more difficult. Several tentpole releases from major studios this year have vastly underperformed industry estimates, whether it be Walt Disney Studios’ INDIANA JONES AND THE DIAL OF DESTINY, Warner Bros. Pictures’ THE FLASH, Paramount Pictures’ MISSION IMPOSSIBLE – DEAD RECKONING PART ONE or Universal Pictures’ FAST X. At the same time, some of the major studios had other comparably high-profile releases that either met or completely blew past expectations. Examples of the latter include BARBIE, OPPNEHEIMER, THE SUPER MARIO BROS. MOVIE and SPIDER-MAN: ACROSS THE SPIDER-VERSE.

While studios anxiously await to see how the remaining major titles of the year like KILLERS OF THE FLOWER MOON, NAPOLEON, THE MARVELS, THE HUNGER GAMES: THE BALLAD OF SONGBIRDS AND SNAKES, WONKA and AQUAMAN AND THE LOST KINGDOM will fare at the box office, there may be a niche genre with two upcoming releases that could provide more favorable financial returns: the concert film.

Concert Film History

The argument that theaters should make more of an effort to prioritize live event/concert movies isn’t new, and the idea re-entered discussions regarding industry recovery during and after the COVID-19 pandemic. Among the past attempts by film distributors to capitalize on die-hard fans of musicians, the Top 10 performing concert films as it pertains to domestic box office gross include those showcasing Justin Bieber, Michael Jackson, Miley Cyrus, One Direction, Katy Perry, Jonas Brothers, Madonna and U2. The DBO range for the Top 10 titles is between US$8.6m and US$73.0m, with JUSTIN BIEBER: NEVER SAY NEVER (2011) topping the list. With the most recent film on that list being released in 2013, it would seem as though the genre is due for another major release.

“Swifties” vs the “BeyHive”

Enter Taylor Swift and Beyonce. As it so happens, two major titles could easily find themselves amongst the Top 10 soon, with one most likely replacing Bieber at #1. In August, Swift announced that a concert film showcasing her ongoing “Eras Tour” will be released on October 13th. The film’s presales shattered records for its co-distributors and worldwide theater chains Cinemark and AMC, selling US$37m worth of tickets across both the aforementioned chains and Regal Cinemas on its first day of availability. That figure exceeds the Day 1 presales of numerous historic and high-profile films like STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS (2015) and SPIDER-MAN: NO WAY HOME (2021). If you add in presales form Canada’s Cineplex and Mexico’s Cinepolis, that figure rises to US$65m.

Soon after Swift’s announcement, Beyoncé announced that her own concert film for “The Renaissance” tour will be released on December 1st, also with distribution from AMC.

Being just days away from the first of these releases, we at Cinelytic decided to utilize our forecasting tool to understand how these films may perform at the box office. This tool takes into consideration 19 material input attributes available at Greenlight to determine a full-performance waterfall.
This will be the first time we have used this tool for a concert film.

We utilized the reported US$20m budget of TAYLOR SWIFT: THE ERAS TOUR for both titles and differing theatrical release strategies of 4,300 screens for ERAS and 4,000 screens for RENAISSANCE, with both musicians in the lead in each respective film. With these inputs, the Cinelytic platform predicts the following domestic box office revenues:

The forecast for ERAS of US$238M represents the most probably median forecast scenario. Our predictive tool can forecast the entire range of probability-based scenarios so that the user can get a good handle on outlier scenarios (e.g. 70% / 30% confidence) and the likelihood of those becoming a reality.

In addition, our platform does forecast ancillary revenues such as Home Video and TV revenues at the consumer level (10-year ultimates). Further making the point that in addition to a strong theatrical release, ERAS is predicted to do very well on digital home video over the next years:

Several industry reports have ERAS tracking with an opening weekend range between US$100m and US$125m, with others bringing the average down closer to between US$75m and US$85m. Even at the lower range of these predictions, ERAS would still earn the biggest opening ever for a concert film.

For Beyonce’s RENAISSANCE, sources have first-day presales from the top three domestic exhibitors estimated to be between US$6.0m and US$7.0m. While that figure may seem “low” in comparison to what Swift is achieving, it should be noted that this range is similar to first-day pre-sales for major recent titles like AVATAR: THE WAY OF WATER, GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL.3 and ANT-MAN AND THE WASP: QUANTUMANIA.

By the time Beyonce’s movie hits exhibitors, her world tour will have been over for two months. However, Swift’s movie employs a different release strategy, with a theatrical release in the middle of her historic tour, which could be one of the main reasons why her presales are outperforming Beyonce’s by as much as they are.

Welcome Relief

As previously mentioned, the largest theater chain in the world (AMC) won distribution rights for both of these films. Theater chains that self-distribute concert films like this can not only avoid numerous fees, but also utilize the craze behind these types of musicians and sold-out tours to avoid the need for inflated marketing expenses. For the talent this direct distribution model means less fees and a more profitable way to exploit their films by directly activating the hundred millions of fans and followers

For months, the film community has been enthralled with writer and actor strikes, which resulted in numerous high profile fall releases like KRAVEN THE HUNTER, DUNE: PART TWO and GODZILLA X KONG: THE NEW EMPIRE being delayed to 2024 since talent wasn’t allowed to partake in any publicity. With no clear box office hits coming through the rest of this year in the form of more traditional film releases, the widely projected success of both Taylor Swift and Beyonce’s upcoming movies may provide a lifeline for theaters and influence more deals like this in the future for concert films.