Queen Bey’s new concert picture Renaissance – written, directed and produced by the star – has topped U.S. box offices on the first weekend of its release, with ticket sales in excess of $21 million, according to figures from distributor AMC Theatres.
The first weekend after Thanksgiving is a traditionally slow time for movie sales, but, not for the first time, Beyoncé has defied the odds. Without allowing for inflation, it’s the first time a film has opened to more than $20 million on this weekend for 20 years.
The impressive figures puts Renaissance among the best debuts for a concert film ever, just shy of Hannah Montana & Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds Concert (taking $31.1 million on its opening weekend in 2008), 2011’s Justin Bieber: Never Say Never ($29.5 million) and Michael Jackson: This Is It ($23.2 million in 2009).
All are dwarfed by Taylor Swift’s recent The Eras Tour, which took an astonishing $92.9 million on its opening weekend in October.
“To have two concert films topping the chart in a single year is pretty unprecedented,” Paul Dergarabedian, the senior media analyst for Comscore, told the Guardian. “Taylor Swift was a total outlier and the result of a very specific set of circumstances. These two films are similar in genre only.”
The two superstars have both been supportive of each other’s films. At the Renaissance premiere in London, Swift was among the celebrity guests, along with musician will.i.am, Beyoncé’s former Destiny’s Child bandmate Michelle Williams and 11-year-old daughter Blue Ivy. At that event, Beyoncé told fans to “feel free to feel” and that she hoped they would “dance, sing, laugh and cry” as they watched the film.
Shot over 10 different countries, 39 cities and 56 shows, Renaissance follows the highs and lows across what is the biggest-grossing tour ever by a Black artist, netting an estimated $580 million worldwide. With VIP tickets costing up to $3,000 each, it’s easy to see the appeal of a film which effectively gives its audience the best seats in the house – and as well as the onstage action, Renaissance chronicles the backstage dramas, including the singer’s struggles to recover from knee surgery and her concerns over Blue Ivy’s celebrated dance routine to the songs “My Power” and “Black Parade”.
"She told me she was ready to perform, and I told her no," Beyoncé admits in the film. "I did not think it was an appropriate place for an 11-year-old."
According to her deal with AMC, it is reported that Beyoncé will take home around 50% of box office earnings.
“On behalf of AMC Theatres Distribution and the entire theatrical industry, we thank Beyoncé for bringing this incredible film directly to her fans,” said Elizabeth Frank, AMC Theatres executive vice-president of worldwide programming. “To see it resonate with fans and with film critics on a weekend that many in the industry typically neglect is a testament to her immense talent, not just as a performer, but as a producer and director.”