Moviegoers in the U.S. and Canada bought 1.3 billion movie tickets in 2018, according to the National Association of Theatre Owners. While this is higher than in 2017, it is still well below Hollywood’s best year. After peaking at 1.57 billion in 2002, ticket sales have steadily declined throughout the 21st century.
Despite the declining attendance, Hollywood has never made more money — 2018 had a record-breaking box office haul of $11.8 billion. This is largely because movie tickets have never been more expensive. The national average cost of a movie ticket in 2018 was $9.11, marking the first time the average price has eclipsed $9.00. For most of the 1990s, tickets sold for an average of less than $5 apiece, and dating back to the 1960s, many Americans could go to the movies for less than a buck.
24/7 Wall St. reviewed data from the National Association of Theatre Owners to determine the cost of a movie ticket the year you were born. The personal consumption expenditure price index was used to estimate the cost in the years for which there was no data. The year’s top grossing movie is the film released during that year with the highest domestic box office gross for its entire theatrical run, according to movie industry data site The Numbers.
The domestic box office has been dominated by superhero films in recent years. Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy, The Avengers franchise, and various recent takes on the X-Men and DC universes have all earned billions. These films have maintained a grip on Hollywood for a decade, largely because they tend to be financial successes. These are the best superhero movies of all time.
Box office success is not limited to superhero movies, though those films tend to have a key ingredient to selling lots of tickets — franchising. Hollywood is often criticized for not making original films, but the reality is that a new story featuring familiar concepts and characters stands the best chance of being a box office smash. Star Wars, Jurassic Park, James Bond, and other extended cinematic universes are rewriting box office history with each new release. These are the top grossing franchises of all time.
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