Special Report

Cost of Going to the Movies Over the Years


To find the cost of a movie ticket the year you were born, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed cost data for each year since 1948 provided by the National Association of Theatre Owners. The prices from 1989 onward have been calculated, according to the theater group, “by dividing actual revenue (net of taxes, passes and voids) by actual number of tickets sold by survey respondents, which must include the 10 largest U.S. companies and 60% of the total screens in the U.S at a minimum.” Prior to 1989, ticket prices were based on the Consumer Price Index For Urban Wage Earners And Clerical Workers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. We used the most recent data available for each year as provided by the National Association of Theatre Owners.

Inflation-adjusted prices were calculated by 24/7 Wall St. using the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Consumer Price Index. The top-grossing movie released in each calendar year, ranked by total domestic box office, came from movie industry data site The Numbers.

Where average ticket prices are displayed by decade, only available pricing data was included. For this reason, some decades are missing price data for certain years. The film chosen to represent each decade is the top-grossing movie of the relevant decade.

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