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Shake cinema etiquette off: Why are Taylor Swift fans encouraged to break theatre rules?

Taylor Swift, centre, and tour dancers arrive at the world premiere of the concert film Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour
Taylor Swift, centre, and tour dancers arrive at the world premiere of the concert film Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour Copyright Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP
Copyright Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP
By David Mouriquand
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Look What You Made Them Do...

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The Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour concert film is out in cinemas across Europe today (13 October).

It is predicted to be one of the biggest films of the year and contributes to making the concert film the surprise trend of 2023 fall season

However, there's a snag: fans are being encouraged to sing along during screenings.

The movie, directed by Sam Wrench and which has a runtime of 2 hours and 48 minutes, captures the North American leg of Swift’s ongoing career-spanning stadium tour and broke numerous box office records last week.

To mark the occasion, cinema chains AMC, Odeon and Cineworld have stated that ticketholders can largely forgo traditional cinema etiquette.

Odeon encouraged fans to “absolutely celebrate by singing and dancing” throughout the concert film, while AMC Theatres have released a statement listing the guidance ahead of the film’s premiere.

“We encourage dancing and singing throughout this concert film event, but please do not dance on our seats or block other guests from viewing, safely walking or exiting the auditorium.”

The initial decree came from Swift herself. In an Instagram post announcing the film, she told her fans that singing and dancing are “encouraged.”

Delightful though that is, and you can bet bracelets will be shared, good luck with assuring that paying audience members don’t have their sightlines blocked.

“Feel free to take selfies and group photos, but you may not record the concert film on our big screen.”

So phone etiquette is out the window too? Again, best of luck enforcing that no filming rule.

“Outside food and drinks are not allowed.”

Well, at least that rule remains...

Granted, concert films do shake things up a bit for moviegoers, who are sitting down and (usually) keeping quiet to enjoy the film.

However, people are torn about the whole event, as Swifties love them a singsong, especially when it comes to screaming the bridge to her song ‘Cruel Summer’ and shouting “1, 2, 3, let’s go, bitch!” at the start of ‘Delicate’.

It’s all in good fun and there’s no doubt that screenings of Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour will be a joyful and raucous event, akin to seeing The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

However, movie theatre etiquette is a contentious subject. It has gotten worse in recent years, especially with more chatting and an alarming number of ticketholders incapable of putting their phones down and refusing to not light up the darkened theatres with the bright glare of smartphone screens.

Any regular cinemagoer has seen first-hand the deterioration of etiquette in theatres – something which was especially noticeable during the Barbenheimer phenomenon of the summer, with numerous incidents of filming, picture-taking, and even fighting taking place, all as part of the zeitgeist.

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A Brazilian Barbie screening ended with a brawl, for instance, and it’s not limited to Barbie. In France last March, a full-on bowing match happened at the end of a screening of Creed III ...

So, while it’s great that Barbieheimer and Taylor Swift are reminding people of the joys of cinemagoing, there’s nothing to celebrate about disobeying certain rules. Killjoy though that may sound, waving the etiquette will encourage many to act like they’re at the actual live shows, and that’s just not the case.

Of course, the Eras concert film isn't the same as going to watch a regular movie at the theatre, and it is a treasured chance to see the sold-out Eras Tour for those not lucky enough to secure some rare and expensive tickets. But there is the risk that fans will think they can behave like they’re at a gig.

Some cinemagoers have expressed similar worries online:

"probably an unpopular opinion but i hope others in the theater i’m in for the eras tour film actually treat it like a movie & not a concert. i’m all for trading bracelets before it starts & even singing along but not at a volume where we can’t hear taylor & def no standing."

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“so I want to see the Era Tour in theatres but if it’s just going to be a bunch of people singing in a theatre so loud I can’t hear Taylor then what’s even the point”

"I think Taylor said singing and dance encouraged bc she probably hasn’t been to a regular ass movie theatre in over a decade, like just gave permission for the worst behavior."

Preach.

While there isn’t much point in being a mopey spoilsport about it, do spare a thought of all audience members, especially the ones who actually want to see and hear their favourite artist sing, as well as the cinema staff who will have to clean up afterwards.

Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour is out now. Swift will bring the tour to the UK next year, before taking the show across Europe. The singer’s ‘1989 (Taylor’s Version)’ will be released later this month.

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