Recently I have been seeing articles heralding the Taylor Swift and Beyonce concert movies as the recipe for financial success for struggling movie theaters—turn movie attendance into an event.
Except that those articles might have gotten ahead of themselves because attendees of those events are expressing disappointment about their experiences. Essentially, its a matter of FOMO – fear of missing out- colliding with the one thing performance venues have been heralding as the biggest benefit of live events over recordings —every experience is different.
As a recent Slate article stated, the grass seemed greener at the screening the next theater over. Some attendees to the Taylor Swift Eras tour concert screening felt other people were having a rowdier experience than they were. Others felt like their screening was way too rowdy and they couldn’t hear Taylor. There were inevitable articles and social media posts about proper movie attendance etiquette.
Some of this hype came from Swift herself—when she announced the concert film in August, her social media statement included the line, “Eras attire, friendship bracelets, singing and dancing encouraged.” At real tour dates, fans have taken to dressing up and exchanging hand-beaded friendship bracelets, as well as vigorously singing and dancing along to the music, so Swift was setting the tone for the movie’s rollout, telling fans that they should feel free to pretend they were attending the genuine article.
But not everyone was happy about these situations: Some of the videos depicting fans having semi-religious experiences at the movie were accompanied by posts like this one, where a user complained, “I’m at the worst screening ever cant even hear taylor :)”
A writer for the A.V. Club shared of her moviegoing experience, “[S]eeing all those weeping fans onscreen in a silent, mostly empty theater with not even an AMC-branded friendship bracelet in sight rang especially hollow.” But she went through the grass-is-greener phenomenon in real time, going on to write, “While no one was in costume in my theater, I did take a pee break halfway through, which revealed an entirely different crowd from an earlier screening that had just let out.” The other audience had “more pink, more rhinestones, more souvenir popcorn buckets, and at least two limited edition folklore cardigans, so the vibe might have been totally different.”
Among the suggestions floated in the article were akin to the practice of scheduling accessible or sensory friendly shows. In this case there would be a choice between quiet and raucous.