Near the end of her new concert documentary, "Renaissance: A Film by Beyoncé," Beyoncé states that she's tired of being a "serial people-pleaser." Since she was a child, she says, she has been striving for stardom, but now that she's on top of the world and two years into her revelatory 40s, it's time to recalibrate.
"I have nothing to prove to anyone at this point," she says.
Maybe that's why Beyoncé decided to skip the red carpet entirely at the Los Angeles premiere of her movie last weekend. And she entered her own premiere only after the lights had been turned off and the movie was seconds away from beginning.
Like Taylor Swift's Eras Tour concert documentary, "Renaissance" will be distributed by AMC Theaters. But unlike Swift, who shares plenty about her life, Beyoncé is one of the most private superstars.
She has given virtually no interviews over the past decade, and any insight into her life or work mostly has to be inferred from brief statements released on social media or her website. "Renaissance: A Film by Beyoncé," which chronicles the most recent world tour in support of her seventh studio album, offers fans something new to interpret, pulling back Beyoncé's curtain ever so slightly.
Here are four takeaways from the premiere of the movie, which will be in theaters Thursday.
This is more than just a filmed concert
Swift presented a straightforward concert documentary that never left the stage: It was meant to feel as if you had the best seat on her tour stop, but it included no behind-the-scenes frills.
"Renaissance" does things a little differently. Like Beyoncé's film "Homecoming," which chronicled the assemblage of her 2018 Coachella performance, the new movie often takes us behind the steel girders to see just how the mammoth tour was put together.
"I'm excited for people to see the show," Beyoncé says in the film, "but I'm really excited for everyone to see the process."
That process comes in bits and pieces as we watch Beyoncé call the shots on everything from lighting to set decoration to orchestration, sometimes getting frustrated that her notes aren't heard. "Communicating as a Black woman," she says, "everything is a fight."
Still, people come around to Beyoncé's will sooner or later, she says.
Beyoncé also devotes behind-the-scenes segments to her recovery from a knee injury, a hometown visit to Houston, and her late, treasured Uncle Johnny, whose love of house music helped inspire the dance bangers on "Renaissance." And there's plenty of fan footage, too: The film often cuts away to shots of audience members in various states of ecstatic crying or frozen, religious awe.
Only a little bit got left out
Though the ballad-heavy prelude that opened Beyoncé's Renaissance set list is trimmed, nearly every other song from the tour is included in the film. She even found room for "Thique" and "All Up in Your Mind," a "Renaissance" doubleheader excised from many of her tour stops.
The only egregious omission in this two-hour-48-minute movie is a behind-the-scenes bit that goes by way too quickly: Beyoncé convenes a Destiny's Child reunion in Houston that includes not just Kelly Rowland and Michelle Williams but also two of the girl group's first members, LeToya Luckett and LaTavia Roberson, who were contentiously pushed out.
"It was like a new birth for us, and a lot of healing," Beyoncé says in her narration, though we only see the five of them together for a second and don't hear a single thing they discussed.
The missing 'visuals' remain a mystery
The "Renaissance" album was released in July 2022 without any sort of music-video accompaniment, a surprise given Beyoncé's recent run of game-changing visual albums for "Lemonade" and her self-titled 2013 record. A subsequent teaser video for the first "Renaissance" album track "I'm That Girl" seemed to promise more to come, but none did.
At a Louisville, Kentucky, stop on the Renaissance tour, a fan held up a sign asking where the visuals were, prompting Beyoncé to grandly tell the crowd, "You are the visuals." (The crowd didn't love that.) The "Renaissance" movie is cheeky enough to include that moment, but otherwise, there's no mention of the missing visuals, nor an explanation of why they've seemingly been scuttled.
Blue Ivy fought for her tour spot
By and large, the Renaissance tour eschewed celebrity cameos and surprise drop-ins, preferring to keep the focus on the queen bee herself. Big names joined Beyoncé onstage at only two tour stops: Houston, where Megan Thee Stallion performed "Savage," and Los Angeles, where Diana Ross and Kendrick Lamar came out for the concert on Beyoncé's 42nd birthday.
Those appearances made it into the movie, but the special guest the movie is most interested in is Beyoncé's daughter, Blue Ivy Carter, who often participated as one of the dancers on her mother's songs "My Power" and "Black Parade." I caught one of Blue Ivy's first tour appearances last May in London, where she was still getting the hang of her choreography, but by the end of the Renaissance tour, she had everything — the moves, the attitude — down pat.
Turns out, Blue Ivy's performance was supposed to be a one-off, and even that took some negotiating. "She told me she was ready to perform, and I told her no," Beyoncé says in the film. Though she finally relented, Beyoncé was dismayed when Blue Ivy read comments on social media that criticized her lackluster moves. But it thrilled her mother that instead of quitting, she decided to put in the work and train even harder for future stops.
Blue Ivy also pops up in much of the behind-the-scenes footage, offering her often unsugarcoated opinion on stage design, song choices and more. In a film where everyone else treats Beyoncé as a boss or a goddess, Blue Ivy is an amusingly irreverent presence: To this 11-year-old, Beyoncé is just a mom.