Taylor Swift's Eras Tour film premiere closed down LA's The Grove on Wednesday October 11 as 2,200 fans, friends and family arrived for two hours and 48 minutes of pure joy.
But it didn't start that way for everyone – in our screening, a sync issue led to some confusion as what we saw on screen didn't match the vocals. Was this really the output we were getting from the world's biggest pop star? Of course not - and midway through 'The Man', we were interrupted with an apology and a reset. We would expect nothing less from the Queen of perfection herself.
The night started the way most premieres do – with lines of people. A line to get into the parking lot, a line to get through security, a line to collect physical tickets despite having QR codes.
But the security was a necessity; recall the madness that occurred at Jack Antonoff and Margaret Qualley's wedding in New Jersey last month when word got out that 33-year-old Taylor was in attendance for the rehearsal dinner. Taylor Nation, her team, therefore didn't confirm the location to attendees until four hours before check in.
Taylor's own attendance was up in the air until she posted on Instagram, confirming she was "getting in the car," and she made her arrival known, taking the time to greet waiting fans outside The Grove, snapping selfies and sharing anecdotes – and probably receiving a few friendship bracelets along the way – before being joined by her dancers and musicians for a big group picture.
Beyonce also made a surprise appearance, posing for pictures with Taylor, who wore a $12000 Oscar de la Renta gown – although it is thought the superstar did not stay to watch the film – and other celebrities pictured included Mariska Hargitay, Rachel Zegler, Maren Morris, Simu Liu, Julia Garner, and Adam Sandler.
Once everyone had taken their seats though, the long wait began. With 14 screenings, filled with fans, Taylor made sure to make the rounds and give her thanks – and it meant that despite a 7pm start time, many screenings did not kick off until past 8.30pm.
Thank God for free popcorn, candy and champagne.
In our screening, where the tour dancers and crew members mingled and eagerly awaiting their first viewing, she began her speech by thanking the fans and sharing that she had "never had this much fun in my life as I have had on the tour".
"It is far in a way, just the most electric experience of my life and, and the reason for that is several things like my band, my dancers, my crew," she continued to cheers.
"We did this show, rain or shine, in sickness and in health, no matter what was going on in our lives and we did it with a grin on our faces because of what greeted us on the other side. What you guys were doing in the audience – the amount of care and preparation and passion and intensity that you put into coming to these shows – pulled us out of anything rough that might have been going on in our lives.
"You let us forget about it for 3.5 hours every night on that stage so thank you so much for doing that."
And when the film began, with a gorgeous shot of SoFi Stadium from above, and the intro kicked off, all the waiting was forgotten -- this was what we came for.
'Miss Americana and The Heartbreak Prince', segueing into 'Cruel Summer' and that bridge, 'The Man,' 'Lover,' 'The Archer'...
Wait, 'The Archer' was cut.
It was in fact one of five songs cut from the main set list for the film, along with 'Tis The Damn Season' from the Evermore era, 'Long Live' from Speak Now, 'Cardigan' from Folklore, and 'Wildest Dreams' from 1989.
Perhaps in order to keep the runtime under three hours, certain songs were chopped; 1989, Red, Fearless, and Reputation all kept their setlist intact.
The ten-minute standing ovation for 'Champagne Problems' was also – understandably – snipped down to a reasonable 60 seconds.
Shot over two nights at Los Angeles' So-Fi Stadium in August 2023, director Sam Wrench makes a valiant attempt to encompass the massive scale of this tour, and the sense of belonging and wonder that attending brought to so many.
Some of that was lost in the film; with so much going on on the stage, shots to the audiences are few and far between, and due to the three-hour plus run time, Taylor had already limited her direct interactions with the crowd, leaving him forced to use the star's candid facial expression, quirks and waves to the crowd to bring the audience into that feeling.
Where the film really shines though, is in giving the audience a closer look at the incredible talents of her diverse backing singers and dancers. The crew stayed with her across the first five months of the North American tour, and are expected to stay with her into 2024 as she takes the tour global.
Some of them -– looking at you Jan Ravnik and Kam Saunders – have already gone viral thanks to social media, but getting to see the work of the others up close, particularly during set pieces, such as 'The Last Great American Dynasty' and 'Tolerate It', is a gift.
"I appreciate you being here because this night is a core memory for me, and you're a part of it," Taylor had told the crowd earlier in the evening, and although the Eras Tour will be a core memory for Swifties forever, getting to relive the memories over and over again is enchanting.