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From: Jon Koplik11/3/2023 1:17:58 AM
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WSJ -- Taylor Swift’s ‘Eras Tour’ movie / can be heard through walls at movie theaters ..............

WSJ

Nov. 2, 2023

Taylor Swift’s ‘Eras Tour’ Movie Is Interrupting Screenings Around the Country

Moviegoers say the pop star’s concert film can be heard through the walls at showings of ‘Killers of the Flower Moon,’ ‘The Exorcist: Believer’ and more

By Sara Ashley O’Brien

Taylor Swift is unmissable these days. Fans can find her performing live for crowds of 70,000, cheering for the Kansas City Chiefs from a coveted box, stepping out to dinner in New York City and filling theater seats for her “Eras Tour” film.

Even those who aren’t tuning in are getting an earful.

Moviegoers say they’ve been surprised to hear the musician’s songs through the walls at showings of “The Exorcist: Believer” and “Killers of the Flower Moon” as theaters have struggled to contain the sound of her nearly three-hour concert film.

Connor Petrey, editor in chief of movie and television review site Cinefied, heard notes from Swift’s “Look What You Made Me Do” while attending a screening of Martin Scorsese’s “Killers” at a Cinemark-owned theater near Cleveland, Ohio. An emotional scene when stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Lily Gladstone grapple with deaths of Osage people “was kind of spoiled by some serious thumping on the wall from the speakers,” Petrey, 27, said. He compared the booming, invasive sounds of Swift’s stadium tour to explosions in a Michael Bay action film.

Rob Laltrello, a 21-year-old video editor, was sitting in the middle of a theater in Marietta, Ga., for a 7 p.m. showing of “The Exorcist: Believer” when he lost focus. “All I could hear was that one song about Romeo and Juliet on my left,” he said, referring to Swift’s “Love Story,” playing during a relatively quiet scene where Victor, played by Leslie Odom Jr., is speaking to his daughter. At another point, Laltrello briefly became preoccupied by the sound of Swift’s “All Too Well (10-Minute Version).”

He said other people in the theater seemed more amused than irritated. “I think everyone there watching ‘The Exorcist’ grew closer, laughing at, like, ‘Why can we hear Taylor Swift right now?’”

The team behind “The Exorcist: Believer” pushed the horror film’s release date by one week to avoid conflicting with the concert film’s Oct. 13 theatrical debut. Producer Jason Blum tweeted the announcement with a Swiftian lyrical reference: “Look what you made me do.”

That hasn’t prevented “Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour” from stealing the show.

“That’s kind of the impact of her right now,” said Laltrello, who credits having dated a Swiftie for his knowledge of her songs. “Obviously, huge in the news is what’s happening with the NFL and her. This is one more thing where it’s like -- not in a negative way -- Taylor Swift is kind of being crammed down our throats.”

Swift’s connection to Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce has been fodder for countless headlines. She’s become a central character during Sunday Night Football and will be performing at stadiums through next November. Her album re-recordings have given fans even more Swift to devour.

To top it off, Swift’s film production has proven a major boon for Swift and theaters, grossing more than $200 million in its first three weekends, according to box-office data from Comscore. AMC Theatres, the film’s distributor, also confirmed the figure.

Chains including AMC, Regal and Cineplex are encouraging attendees to dance and sing throughout the film. Another company, Cinemark, is offering an option for people to rent auditoriums for up to 40 people to have a “full-on dance party” with the film.

Cara Ogburn is the artistic director of the Milwaukee Film, which operates the historic Oriental Theatre that recently underwent a $6 million restoration and renovation. Part of that sum went to installing “sound-dampening material on pretty much every wall” of the three-screen movie theater and adding soundproof doors. That said, noise is still leaking into the lobby. “You can often hear three things happening at once,” Ogburn said.

“We have a history of showing ‘Stop Making Sense’ for many, many years,” said Ogburn of the 1984 Talking Heads movie. “So we are familiar with the joy, as well as the technical challenge that presenting something loud can create.”

“We have yet to receive noise complaints from other auditoriums resulting from these showings,” said Michelle Saba, vice president of communications at Cineplex in an emailed statement. “Cineplex places a high emphasis on ensuring all our guests have a memorable and positive experience in our theaters and take pride in providing viewing experiences in state-of-the-art auditoriums.”

AMC said complaints about disruptive noises in other auditoriums have been lower for “The Eras Tour” compared with other blockbuster releases. “Based on guest survey response data we collect and on anecdotal reports from our theatres, guest experiences related to this film are overwhelmingly positive,” AMC Theatres spokesperson Ryan Noonan said in an email.

Regal and Cinemark did not respond to requests for comment.

Duane Farley II, a 29-year-old pizza delivery driver, and his mother are both horror-film lovers. The two caught a recent showing of “The Exorcist” in Albemarle, N.C., where “The Eras Tour” was audible during moments of “intense silence.”

Farley II joked about the experience with his mother as it was happening: “I’d elbow her and say, ‘Oh I love this one.’”

Davis MacKinlay, a 22-year-old musician and songwriter in Toronto who has tickets to see Swift on tour in November 2024, said it has been hard to ignore concert footage on social media. The concert was also unavoidable at a recent showing of “The Exorcist” that she and her sister attended at a Cineplex-owned theater.

“You could hear the bass and people singing along in the theater. We heard a couple songs faintly,” she said, adding that one “might’ve been ‘Fearless,’” the title track from Swift’s second studio album. She and her sister lip-synced along.

MacKinlay said that the sounds actually enhanced her viewing experience.

“You got the best of both worlds,” she said. “You watch ‘Exorcist,’ and you can hear Taylor Swift at the same time.”

Write to Sara Ashley O’Brien at sara.obrien@wsj.com

Copyright © 2023 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.

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