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No surprise here: Taylor Swift, Beyoncé concert films boost AMC quarterly earnings

Taylor Swift attends “Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour” concert movie world premiere at AMC The Grove 14 on Oct. 11 in Los Angeles.  (Getty Images)
By Nardine Saad Los Angeles Times Los Angeles Times

LOS ANGELES – Taylor Swift and Beyoncé became AMC’s jumpsuit-clad saviors last year, helping the international theater chain continue to recover from the repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic, driving “literally all” its quarterly revenue increase.

While one crossed over from country music and the other is crossing over to country, the industry-disrupting superstars have dominated Hollywood by recently setting their business-savvy sights on the film industry.

How so? Their concert films – “Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour” and “Renaissance: A Film by Beyoncé” – bolstered AMC’s fourth-quarter 2023 earnings, in part by rewriting the distribution protocol by bypassing studios and releasing the films directly through the theater.

“Despite a diminished box office overall, in the fourth quarter compared to the same quarter a year ago, AMC’s revenue grew by 11.5% and AMC’s adjusted EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization) almost tripled,” the company’s chief executive, Adam Aron, said Wednesday during AMC Entertainment’s quarterly earning call. “Literally, all of that increase in AMC’s revenue and EBITDA is attributable to our having shown these two movies in our theaters in the U.S. and internationally.”

AMC, one of the nation’s largest movie chains, said that the films “added greatly” to theater ticket sales across the entire industry and “represented fully one-ninth of the complete fourth quarter domestic industry-wide box office.”

Indeed, “Eras” and “Renaissance” smashed box-office records in their opening weekends, collectively earning more than $115 million domestically, according to Box Office Mojo.

“This is a stunning result given that neither of these films were on anyone’s drawing board until midyear, and that they were the first movies ever distributed by AMC in our entire 103-year history,” Aron said, thanking the Grammy-winning hitmakers

Aron also said the revenue added to “another full year of continued meaningful recovery from the aftermath of the 2020 pandemic,” which resulted in the shutdown of many theaters and billions of dollars in losses.

However, shares of AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc. were down 12.3% Thursday despite the chain’s fourth-quarter results released late Wednesday, MarketWatch reported.

But the earnings were still a win for the theater giant and the industry-disrupting artists. AMC’s “new line of business” shared in 43% of the profits with Swift, who received the remaining 57%. Both she and Beyoncé produced and distributed their concert movies by negotiating directly with AMC and cutting out the costly middleman of a traditional Hollywood studio. (Their similar business decisions also made for lovely photo ops of the two artists at their respective film premieres and heart-warming displays of support.)

Swift, 34, filmed “Eras” in August at SoFi Stadium during the Inglewood stop of her world tour. She released the film in October, and it took in $96 million in its first four days at the domestic box office and crushed the competition on an otherwise sluggish weekend. The blockbuster opening was the highest ever for a concert film, more than tripling the $31 million earned by Miley Cyrus’ “Best of Both Worlds” debut in 2008. The “Eras” movie, which begins streaming on Disney+ on March 15, ultimately earned $180 million at the domestic box office and $80.9 million internationally during its theatrical run.

Renaissance” – also capturing segments of Bey’s performances from the last year, including her three-night run at SoFi Stadium – earned the box-office crown in early December, bringing in $21 million domestically. It opened to the fifth-best domestic debut weekend for a concert movie. It has earned $33.8 million domestically and almost $44 million globally in its 12-week run.

According to Variety, Beyoncé took home roughly 50% of box office earnings, with exhibitors keeping the remaining revenues and AMC taking a small distribution fee.

Last week, Live Nation Entertainment revealed that concert attendance jumped by 20% in 2023 – the year both artists launched the blockbuster tours their concert films were based on and popularized the economic buzzword “fun-flation.” The jump helped the Beverly Hills-based ticket vendor and concert promoter to increase its revenue by 36% in 2023 to $22.7 billion and grow its operating income by 46% to $1.07 billion.

Live Nation also noted that ticket sales were up 30%, with more than 620 million tickets sold by Ticketmaster, bringing in nearly $36 billion. In 2023 alone, more than 145 million people attended upwards of 50,000 live events, the company reported.

In the background of the company’s success, however, the Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on Ticketmaster, Live Nation and the United States ticketing market in 2023 after colossal demand for Swift’s Eras Tour resulted in a Ticketmaster meltdown – spurring a class action lawsuit filed by disgruntled Swifties against the ticketing giant.

The hearing scrutinized alleged anticompetitive practices by Live Nation and Ticketmaster, which control an estimated 80% of the ticketing market. The Department of Justice also has launched an investigation into the ticket vendors’ practices.