While major Hollywood studios and streamers may not want to meet the demands of their employee unions after months of writers and actors’ strikes, Taylor Swift has no such qualms. The pop star reportedly met all of SAG-AFTRA’s requirements to film and produce what could become the highest-grossing tour movie of all time.
In fact, Swift’s team is working with major studios (represented by the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) in ongoing labor negotiations) on production and distribution. Taylor Swift: Time Tour. The film is self-financed, costing Swift a reported $10 to $20 million to produce, and her parents are working directly with AMC Theaters for distribution.
More important amid the ongoing strike: According to Duncan Crabtree-Ireland, the union’s national executive director and chief negotiator, she and SAG-AFTRA, of which the pop star is a member 1) approached to reach a tentative agreement to shoot and promote the film. Swift reportedly got the go-ahead to film her documentary because it wasn’t a theatrical film and also abided by the union’s tentative agreement, which meant higher wages for the crew and a more generous streaming surplus. Wait for the request.
“She came to us and said she wanted to do it, but only if she could do it the right way under a union contract,” Crabtree-Ireland said in a speech at the Toronto Independent Film Festival last week. “We said, that’s great. So she met all the same criteria as the others and got a tentative deal for the production.”
SAG-AFTRA has signed a number of tentative agreements since the strike began in July. Under the agreement, members can promote their projects as long as they are not associated with AMPTP. The Eras Tour documentary was filmed by the pop star’s in-house production company, Taylor Swift Productions, from August 3 to 6 at SoFi Arena in Los Angeles. Taylor Swift: Time Tour On the list of SAG-AFTRA approved interim agreements, but may exist under a pseudonym.
Swift didn’t need a major studio or streamer Netflix or Disney to create a major pop culture moment. The pop star has so much popularity and capital that she can do this on her own.
Crabtree-Ireland went on to note that this isn’t the first time Swift’s business ventures have benefited the collective. He pointed to her 2018 agreement with Universal Music Group, which stipulates that if Universal sells any of its shares of Spotify, all artists signed to the label will receive a portion of the proceeds.
Although Swift’s movie may not Barbie numbers, and she’ll be breaking more records when she opens next month. According to BoxOffice.com, the film is expected to gross $100 million in its opening weekend and could top $145 million in its debut. This is unprecedented for a concert film and will place it among the top five theatrical releases this year.
The tour itself, which kicked off earlier this year and is currently scheduled to run until next November, is expected to generate well over $1 billion in ticket sales alone, not to mention all the other economic activity it generates. It’s on track to become the highest-grossing tour of all time.
Eschewing studios and partnering with SAG-AFTRA has garnered support for Swift across the industry. Earlier this year, she gained more public goodwill after reports emerged that she handed out “life-changing” bonuses worth at least $55 million to many employees, including caterers, dancers and truck drivers.