Jennifer Gamez and Kelly Marsali were strangers until a chance meeting at AMC Lincoln Square 13 on Friday night. As one went up and the other went down the elevator in one of New York City’s busiest movie theaters, they exchanged friendship bracelets to commemorate being among the first to see the concert film “Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour.”
“I was impressed with her bracelet choice and her cat shirt,” says Gamez, 33. “That’s what it’s all about with Taylor Swift,” adds Marsali, 53, wearing a pink “Lover”-inspired suit over a cat-print T-shirt. “She brings all ages, all backgrounds, all different personalities together.”
There’s nothing for Swifties to miss in the room, likely decorated in pastels, glitter and concert T-shirts. Inside the lobby, the energy was palpable as new friends took photos of each other and old friends took selfies with posters. Thanks to Swift’s global appeal, her concert film — which documents the pop star’s record-breaking three-hour tour — has become the cinematic event 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 arrives in theaters not just as a blockbuster, but as a full-fledged cultural event.
“This is something we haven’t seen in a long time,” says Jeffrey Ramirez, an AMC Theaters employee who was scanning tickets Friday evening. “We had an Oppenheimer,” he adds, referring to this summer’s popular double feature of Barbie and Oppenheimer. But this is a different kind of excitement. “Everyone was dancing in the theaters and singing songs in line.”
Even the staff joins in the fun. “One guest gave me a friendship bracelet, which is great as a male who doesn’t know much about Swift,” says Ramirez, who answered at least a dozen questions in eight minutes about the availability of branded popcorn buckets. “We have a full house all night.”
Many moviegoers chose AMC’s Upper West Side location because it featured one of the largest Imax screens in the country. As fate would have it, the stage name comes as digitally loaded as anything in Swift’s world. “I hate to say it, but Lincoln Square 13” Marsali says, emphasizing the pop star’s lucky number. Another funny coincidence: The IMAX auditorium is (you guessed it) Theater No. 13.
Fans treat the theatrical experience like another (less expensive) stop on its sold-out tour. Instead of strictly enforcing no-talking or texting rules, performers — at Swift’s suggestion — encourage the audience to sing, dance and even take videos of all the on-stage fun.
“I’m so excited because I’m sweating,” says Cody Haney, 27. “I love it so much, it’s kind of scary.” 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 chairs were too high, so I couldn’t see a lot of her facial expressions,” Nouvel says.
She is looking forward to remembering the show this time. “I kind of passed out [from excitement] “When you’re on tour,” she says. “So it’s great to see him back on a bench with popcorn.”
Likitha Yerraguntla, 21, felt a strong desire to see the film on its first day of release despite having attended several nights of the “Eras Tour” at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey. “I didn’t want to see spoilers,” she says. “She’s bringing it up on Friday the 13th for some reason. So I’m going on Friday the 13th.”
For some moviegoers, opening night is the first of many planned trips to see “Eras Tour” on the big screen. Jared Bass, 25, bought tickets to three shows (Thursday, Friday and Saturday) this weekend alone. He admits that while there’s nothing quite like the actual concert experience, he may be pleasantly surprised by the atmosphere in the theater. “He was full of joy and happiness,” says Bass, who brought 83 homemade friendship bracelets to exchange with other Swifties.
“Is it nice to watch the movie? Yes,” he says. “But it’s the atmosphere that brought me back.”
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