How Is the Taylor Swift Eras Concert Movie Different from the Live Tour?
At times while watching Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour, it’s difficult to detect what separates Taylor Swift’s concert film from her live show itself. Each beckon sequined Swifties to point their phones forward as they sing along to every word of the roughly 40-song setlist. And both have become blockbusters—the sold-out Eras tour nearly broke Ticketmaster, while its companion movie pre-sold more than $100 million in tickets a week before its premiere, already passing Justin Bieber: Never Say Never as the highest-grossing concert film debut.
But while some fans had hoped that Swift would change nothing in the transfer from stadium to screen, a few necessary changes have been made to shave the 3-hour-and-15-minute concert into a still-supersized 2 hours and 45 minutes. So, where are the blank spaces, exactly?
Naturally, the costume changes have been condensed, as have intros such as the extended piano lead-in to “Tolerate It.” Others have been retained in all their symbolic glory, like the snakes that slither Swift into her Reputation era.
Five songs in total were cut from Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour: Swift’s 1989 hit “Wildest Dreams”; her performance of “No Body, No Crime” with opening act Haim; Lover’s “The Archer”; Folklore’s lead single “Cardigan,” and Speak Now’s “Long Live,” a track permanently added to the setlist during Swift’s first show in Kansas City this July, which coincided with the release of Speak Now (Taylor’s Version).
I was in the audience that evening at Arrowhead Stadium, in which Swift unveiled the music video for Speak Now bonus track “I Can See You” and brought the video’s stars, Joey King and ex-boyfriend Taylor Lautner, out on stage. Those Kansas City shows may also have been ground zero for her romance with Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce, but there’s no trace of their budding romance in the film or any behind-the-scenes Easter eggs.
In fact, as filmed by director Sam Wrench, all three hours are devoted to Swift and her fans alone. No celebrity guests are shown, including the musical collaborators Swift has invited to perform with her onstage like Jack Antonoff, Aaron Dessner, and Ice Spice. And neither are Swift’s performances with any of her opening acts, which included Gracie Abrams and Phoebe Bridgers, with whom she would often sing their duet “Nothing New.”
The concert was filmed during Swift’s six-night stint at the SoFi stadium in Inglewood, a suburb of Los Angeles, back in August. There were a few song switches over the course of the Eras tour’s first leg. “No Body, No Crime” replaced Evermore track “‘Tis the Damn Season” when Haim was opening for Swift, as they did for the SoFi shows, so that song is also missing. And Folklore’s fate-brought-us-together track “Invisible String” was switched out for the rueful what-could-have-been ballad “The 1” after Swift’s split from longtime boyfriend Joe Alwyn was publicized, meaning the former track has also been scrapped from the movie.
Each night on the Eras tour, Swift would select a pair of surprise songs to play for that crowd acoustically—one on the guitar and the other on the piano. While filming the concert movie, Swift performed six different surprise songs, such as “I Can See You,” “Maroon,” “You Are in Love,” and “Death by a Thousand Cuts.” But it’s “Our Song” from her debut 2006 album that’s played on the guitar in the movie, and “You’re on Your Own, Kid,” from her most recent album Midnights that gets the film’s piano slot. The latter song is also the one whose lyrics inspired Swifties (and Kelce) to make friendship bracelets for the tour.
Rest assured: those looking to trade bracelets at their screenings are still likely to find a beaded accessory or two. And the fan anthem “Long Live” also plays over the end credits, in all its glory.