Deciding which movie theater to watch the upcoming “Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour” in might be as difficult as choosing which Swift era you want to represent.
The concert film, which will start showing Thursday night, will bring Swifties, concert fans and the general public right into the middle of a Swift concert. And 3,850 theaters across North America are planning to show the film in myriad formats, giving Swifties an array of choices for how they want to experience the concert film.
The production is a recorded version of her concerts culled from three of her performances at SoFi Stadium, where concertgoers originally spotted cameras at her six-night stand. The film will even give some fans who attended her other shows a chance to hear songs she didn’t perform elsewhere, such as “You’re on Your Own, Kid” and “Maroon.”
Tickets for the “Eras Tour” film cost $19.89 for adults (a reference to Swift’s “1989″ album, which she is set to release a new recording of in October) and $13.13 for children and seniors (13 is Swift’s lucky number).
And of course, as Swift herself said, “Eras attire, friendship bracelets, singing and dancing encouraged.”
Here’s a breakdown of the best way to see it — whether you want to feel like you have a floor seat at a concert, vibe out with your friends or grab some shiny Swift swag for your kids.
1. For the best sound
Look for: Dolby Atmos
For the crispiest sound, American composer Michael Giacchino recommends seeking out theaters with Dolby Atmos surround sound — often considered the best for a movie theater audio experience.
Still, Giacchino, whose music has been seen across television and movies, said he’s unsure how the audio might turn out for Swift’s movie. The film’s mixing will combine elements from Swift’s performance and concertgoers from the show, which will make the experience much different than just listening to Swift’s recorded albums.
“I’m excited to see it,” he said.
Expect the live experience to be amplified, Giacchino said. People will be dancing and singing to other people singing and dancing on screen, which isn’t very common in movie theaters.
2. For the most immersive experience
Look for: Imax, ScreenX, big screens and surround sound
People who want to feel as if they’re actually at the concert should seek out Imax screens, said Andrew Mall, an associate professor of music at Northeastern University who has researched Swift’s box office impact and music festivals in general.
ScreenX theaters, which offer 270-degree displays, can also mimic the experience of having a floor seat at the Eras tour. When BTS released its live concert in theaters this year, many of their army sought out these special screens.
“ScreenX, Imax, under-seat subwoofers, dozens of speakers: All of these features will add to a technologically immersive theatrical experience,” Mall said. “But none of these will guarantee that the social experience will also be immersive.”
3. For the best Swiftie parties
Look for: Major movie theater chains, special events
Die-hard Swifties are in luck: Major theater chains such as AMC and Alamo Drafthouse have relaxed their typical theater rules to accommodate a more concert-like atmosphere for the “Eras” film: Singing, dancing and swapping friendship bracelets are encouraged.
Introducing those elements is a “no brainer,” said Chaya Rosenthal, Alamo Drafthouse’s VP of marketing. Just as the theater chain leaned into special “Barbie” experiences — slumber party shows and dress-up screenings, for example — Alamo is actively encouraging audiences to revive the spirit of the Eras concerts.
That means you’re free to bring your light-up tour bracelets, wear your favorite Eras costume and shake it off with your friends — but remember to keep it within reason. AMC, for example, advises you to not dance on top of your seat or block the aisles.
Meanwhile, for around $800 you can book a private screening at AMC and Cinemark theaters for up to 40 of your besties.
4. For the best family experience
Look for: Lounge theaters or wait a few weeks
Mall, the Northeastern professor, said the concert film will be an enjoyable experience for all generations because it gives everyone something to look forward to — whether you’re a Swift fan, someone who wants to see a concert for a cheap price or you just want to spend time with family and friends.
“That’s one of the beautiful things about music, right?” he said.
Still, some of your family might not want to get up and dance to the Swift tracks. Maybe you have a child with you or an older parent who could do without a theater full of Swifties scream-singing “Anti-Hero.” A theater with a relaxing setup might be the right move.
The iPic Theater chain, which urges people to bring pillows and blankets to showings, is about as comfy as it gets. They offer dine-in options for guests and seats that are 32 inches wide and created with relaxing and accessibility in mind.
(The theater chain is, however, offering immersive displays for photos before and after the show, so expect there to be some Swifties roaming about. But just think about the possibilities for your family photo album!)
Rosenthal has one more bit of advice: Opening weekend (if you can still get tickets) will attract the most die-hard fans, so if you want a calmer atmosphere, you may also want to sit out the first couple weeks. Don’t worry 3 given early revenue estimates, this film will be in theaters for a while.
5. For the best Swift merch
Look for: Basically everywhere
Theaters are making big pushes to bring Swifties into their theaters, and many are doing so by offering special merchandise. (But be warned: Some of these items may sell out.) AMC Theaters is selling collectible cups ($10 for a small; $12 for a large) covered in multicolored promotional photos of Swift from the different “eras” of her career. There’s also a popcorn tin (likewise plastered in green, pink, blue and yellow Swift promotional photos) and a mini-poster for your office cubicle.
Landmark Theaters are offering collectible cups and popcorn buckets for the movie, too. The bucket, which includes bottomless popcorn, will cost about $14, according to the theater. The refillable collectible cup will run $11. Regal Movies are selling the same collectible items but with a combo price of $19.89 (yet another reference to Swift’s album).
Over at Alamo Drafthouse, audiences can grab a limited-edition shirt, heart-shaped sunglasses, a disco ball cup (“Alamo’s version”) and friendship bracelets. The dine-in theater is also offering special Taylor Swift-themed drinks to fill your cup, including a “Bad Blood-arita,” “Ranch Water on My Guitar” and “Prosecco Problems.”