Jennifer Gameus and Kelly Marsali were strangers until a chance encounter occurred Friday night at AMC Lincoln Square 13. As one ascends and the other descends an escalator at a bustling New York City theater, they exchange friendship bracelets to commemorate being among the first to see the “Taylor Swift: The Era’s Tour” concert film.
“I admired her bracelet choice and cat shirt,” says Gameus, 33. Marsalli, 53, wore a “lover”-inspired pink dress with a cat-print top, “which is the whole Taylor Swift thing.” She brings people of all ages, all backgrounds, and all kinds of personalities together.
No Missing Swifties in the room, perhaps decked out in pastels, glitter and concert tees. Inside the lobby, the energy was palpable as new friends snapped photos of each other and old friends posed for selfies with posters. Thanks to Swift’s global appeal, her concert film — which documents the pop star’s three-hour, record-breaking stadium tour — has become the film phenomenon of the fall. With $100 million in advance ticket sales worldwide, the “Eras Tour” is expected to have one of the biggest opening weekends of the year. It is not only a blockbuster but also a full-fledged cultural event hitting the theaters.
“It’s something we haven’t had in a long time,” said AMC Theaters employee Jeffrey Ramirez, who was scanning tickets Friday evening. “We had Barbenheimer,” he adds, referring to this summer’s popular double feature of “Barbie” and “Oppenheimer.” But this is different. Kind of excitement. Everyone is dancing in theaters and singing along to songs.
Even the workers are having fun. “One guest gave me a friendship bracelet, and it’s a guy who doesn’t know much about Swift,” says Ramirez, who fielded at least a dozen questions in eight minutes about the availability of buckets of branded popcorn. “We have a full house all night.”
Many moviegoers choose AMC’s Upper West Side location because it has one of the largest IMAX screens in the country. As fate would have it, the name of the theater is as numerically loaded as anything in Swift’s world. “I hate to say it, but Lincoln Square 13,” says Marsalli, emphasizing the pop star’s lucky number. Another fun coincidence: the IMAX Auditorium is (you guessed it) Theater 13.
Fans treat the theater experience as just another (cheap) stop on his sold-out tour. Instead of strictly enforcing the no-talking or texting rules, exhibitors — at Swift’s suggestion — encourage audience members to sing and dance, and videotape all the fun inside the theater.
“I’m so excited because I’m sweating,” said 27-year-old Cody Haney. He’s already seen the concert twice, but he and his friend Alexis Neuville, 27, are keen to relive the experience with a better view. “My seats were so high up that I couldn’t see her facial expressions,” Newville says.
She is waiting to recall the show this time. “You’re kind of black [from excitement] When you’re on tour,” he says. “So it’s nice to see it again in one sitting with popcorn.”
21-year-old Likita Yerrakuntla felt strongly about seeing the film on the first day of its release, despite attending several nights of the “Eras Tour” at New Jersey’s MetLife Stadium. “I don’t want to see spoilers,” he says. “She’s putting it out on Friday the 13th for a reason. So I’m going to go with Friday the 13th.
For some moviegoers, the night marks the first of many planned trips to see “Eras Tour” on the big screen. Jared Bass, 25, bought tickets for three showtimes (Thursday, Friday and Saturday) this weekend alone. Although nothing compares to experiencing an actual concert, he admits he was pleasantly surprised by the atmosphere in the theater. “It was full of joy and happiness,” says Bass, who brought 83 homemade friendship bracelets to trade with other Swifties.
“Is the movie good to watch? Yes,” he says. “But the atmosphere brings me back.”
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