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“Cheers to Swifties”: The Eras Tour takes over theaters around north central Florida

While scream masks and tacky costumes typically overtake Friday the 13th, blonde hair and shimmer eyeshadow dominated the lines at more than 300 movie theaters Friday across the nation as Friday kicked off with the premier of “Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour.”

North Central Florida fans were in step with the rest of the nation. Swifties in Gainesville, Ocala and other municipalities had one name one their minds: Taylor Swift.

“I've followed her journey in the music industry and really something missing here? taking power for herself,” Alexis Harwood, 43, of Gainesville said. “Her ownership, her songs, and, you know, even being just a great role model for accountability.”

Wherever fans may be, the film takes the audience to Swift’s concert — the Eras Tour —
which stands as the singer’s sixth headlining concert tour of her albums and songs during the last decade.

“The Eras Tour” runs for 168 minutes — or two hours and forty-eight minutes — just a few minutes shorter than “Oppenheimer.”

Harwood took her daughter, Maeve Harwood, 9, to see the film after she got stellar grades in school. Harwood said Swift exudes a sense of empowerment.

Maeve said the way Swift sings and dances “is really cool.” One of her favorite songs is “Look what you made me do.”

“Cheers to Swifties,” Alexis said.

Bullish film analysts expect an opening weekend to generate between $150 to $200 million in ticket revenues, meaning “The Eras Tour” has a shot at taking this year’s box-office tiara from “Barbie,” which notched a $162 million debut, The New York Times reported.

"Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour" surpassed $100 million in global pre-sales and broke the theater's record for highest ticket sales revenue during a single day, USA Today initially reported — noting movie theater chain AMC announced Thursday the concert film had passed $100 million in global pre-sales.

Regal Cinema at Celebration Pointe reported opening day of The Eras Tour drew more than 1,300 attendees. Staff anticipated more than 2,000 to 3,000 over during the weekend — with every adult ticket being $21, that’s near $27,000 of revenue the first day alone.

Regal staff said the opening weekend of “Barbenheimer” had more than 20,000 attendees, making Eras fall short at their theater.

The film is set to play exclusively in theatres for 13 weeks and will only be available to see Thursdays through Sundays, according to the Hollywood Reporter.

In Gainesville, dedicated Swifties immersed themselves at the theater, dressing up and cheering with friends as songs played.

Elena Edgeworth, 18, of Gainesville has been a Swiftie since she was 9. She saw the 6 p.m. showing of The Eras Tour at Celebration Pointe and believes being a Swiftie has been an amazing experience.

“Taylor’s music and lyrics are so meaningful that I always feel comforted by her words,” Edgeworth said. “There is always a song that describes the feeling I’m going through.”

Edgeworth said she’s converted most of her friends into Swifties, which has helped them bond. She’s met Swifties online and said all of her best memories are all connected back to Swift.

“Whether it’s her concerts, screaming lyrics with my friends, opening up merch on Christmas morning, or having album release parties,” Edgeworth said. “She has made my life so much better and I feel that Taylor Swift is the one thing in my life that will always be constant.”

The film kicked off with a countdown, transitioning to rainbow clouds fading away to expose thousands of fans cheering at the live LA Eras tour in the SoFi Stadium.

“LA, we have arrived,” Swift says to her audience.

The film pans from Swift to audience members who are crying as they experience the concert live.

Hillary Carter, 47, of Gainesville has been a Swiftie since the Red era — Swift’s album which launched in 2012.  Carter fell in love with Swift’s hit song “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together.”

“As I’ve gotten more involved with the Swiftie community, it’s been even more evident that there are lots of people with big feelings,” Carter said.

Carter watched The Era’s Tour to experience the movie with other Swifties. She has been to the tour in person, noting the experience was incredible and makes her happy.

“I’m very sensitive, emotional, and sometimes get fixated on the past,” Carter said. “Taylor’s music makes me feel like I’m not the only one like that.”

Throughout the film, Swift and her performers go through several costume changes depending on the era of her performance.

During “Reputation,” the stage changes to give the appearance of a large snake, Swift’s performers wear black suits and dresses encrusted in red jewels, a stark contrast to “Folklore,” which turns the stage to a somber forest.

Amirah EL Mahdi, 21, of Gainesville watched the film on Friday at Celebration Pointe. She said being a Swiftie has helped her realize she had deep internalized misogyny and had been ashamed of her femininity.

Mahdi said rediscovering her love for Swift has helped her overcome the deep-rooted hatred she had for herself and for other women.

“I have recently healed from a long-term extreme depression and never in my life would have dreamed I’d go see a movie on my own — but I did,” Mahdi said. “I’ve been going to Taylor Swift events even if I had no one to talk to, I’ve been able to connect with other people my age who feel as passionate as I do about Taylor, and it’s become such a healing experience.”

Vivienne is a reporter for WUFT News who can be reached by calling 352-392-6397 or emailing