In October, the biggest film in theaters isn’t going to be a horror film or a superhero movie, but a taping of Taylor Swift’s ongoing, best-selling Eras Tour. And the concert doc is coming to cinemas with the explicit approval of SAG-AFTRA, according to the union’s National Executive Director Duncan Crabtree-Ireland.
On Friday, Crabtree-Ireland appeared as a guest during a live show for IndieWire’s Screen Talk podcast at the Toronto International Film Festival. At the event, Screen Talk host Anne Thompson asked if Swift’s “The Eras Tour” film and its expected box office success is something for those on strike to be concerned about. Crabtree-Ireland said Swift came directly to SAG leadership to determine if its release will follow union rules, and that the film is covered and approved through an interim agreement.
“That concert movie is covered by a SAG-AFTRA interim agreement,” Crabtree-Ireland told Thompson. “She is a member of SAG-AFTRA. And she came to us and said she wanted to do this, but only if she could do it the right way under a union contract. And we said, that’s great. And so she fulfilled all the same criteria as anybody else and has an interim agreement for that production. So we are very excited for everyone to go see that. And judging by the success of the tour, I have every expectation that all the people who couldn’t get tickets because they were so expensive or hard to get, like me, will have a chance to see it in the theaters.”
Since the union’s strike began in July, SAG-AFTRA has provided several productions with interim agreements that allow members to act in or promote films and TV shows without breaking the rules of the union’s work stoppage. The interim agreements are provided to productions that don’t have direct ties to AMPTP, which represents over 350 American and film production companies in their collective bargaining agreements with SAG. The “Eras Tour” doc is being produced by Swift’s in-house company Taylor Swift Productions, and will be distributed directly by AMC Theaters, sidestepping AMPTP involvement entirely.
Crabtree-Ireland further praised Swift as an example of a SAG member and artist who “puts herself out there” to help smaller artists. He pointed to Swift’s 2018 deal with Universal Music Group, in which one of her negotiation points for switching to the label was that if Universal sells any part of its stake in Spotify, it will distribute a portion of the proceeds to all of the artists it has signed under the label.
“That’s the kind collective thinking that I think sort of exemplifies what we’re here to do as a union, which is use our collective power, including the power that’s brought to us by very successful high profile artists, and use them to benefit everybody,” Crabtree-Ireland said. “And so I think that’s a really tremendous thing that she did.”
Set for release on October 13, the “Eras Tour” concert film is already shaping up to be a massive success, grossing at least $37 million in ticket pre-sales during its first day of availability. The move has ruffled the feathers of studios, causing several films like “The Exorcist: Believer” and “Dumb Money” to alter their release plans.