All-Time Top 232 Movies by U.S. Theatre Attendance  

This chart lists movies ranked by the number of movie tickets sold in the United States1.

The data are computed by taking box office receipt data and dividing by ticket price. This is pretty much the only way to do it for United States and United Kingdom data (and is also the method used by Lumiere2).

No effort is made to compensate for population growth. It can be argued that a film had greater influence by impacting a greater percentage of all people, rather than whether it impacts a greater (absolute) number of people. However, the data I have for older films is greatly deficient, and a population-adjusted list would be even less useful (and more misleading) than the list shown here. Readers should have little trouble computing the ratios between the numbers here and suitable demographic data3.

I have attempted to account for the fact that for any given film, not all tickets cost the same. In particular, many movies are seen by a greater number of children, or are seen more often during matinees or with discounts ("passes" or frequent buyer tickets). Such movies sell more tickets per million dollars of box office receipts than other movies showing alongside them. There are also movies that cannot be seen by children or for which the distributor has prohibited the use of discounts. I try to adjust the position of individual films by accounting for these variations.

This has become a far greater issue in recent years with movies such as Avatar (2009) that are seen primarily in 3-D. A 3-D showing costs more money and there is no reliable and public source of data for the 3D-vs-2D market share of each picture, necessary to calculate precisely how much (on average per viewer) a viewer pays to see each particular film.

United States movie fans also need to be aware that being a top-grossing movie in the worldwide market is no longer sufficient to put that movie at the top of this chart. Using Avatar as an example again, it broke a record for worldwide sales (reaching $2.7 billion by the end of the 2010 summer, which would be equivalent to about 270 million tickets at U.S. prices), but the United States only comprised 28% of that amount ($760 million). Avatar made enough worldwide that it could have placed #1 on this chart, but only if that money had all been made in the United States!

Please read the section after the chart for the list of sources I used in my research, and a brief description of how the table was created. Also I want to point out that data is incomplete for movies before the 1960's.

Current and recently-showing movies are in bold; this includes re-releases and remakes of older films, including 3-D remakes. The studio abbreviations and notes are listed at the bottom.

Rank Admissions
Title (year) (studio) Director(s) Notes
1 225.7 Gone With the Wind (1939) (MGM) Victor Fleming, George Cukor, Sam Wood AA M
2 194.4 Star Wars (Ep. IV: A New Hope) (1977) (Fox) George Lucas n M
3 161.0 ET: The Extra-Terrestrial (1982) (Univ) Steven Spielberg n M
4 156.4 The Sound of Music (1965) (Fox) Robert Wise AA M
5 130.0 The Ten Commandments (1956) (Para) Cecil B. DeMille n M
6 128.4 Titanic (1997) (Fox) James Cameron AA M
7 126.3 Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937) (BV) David Hand HA M
8 120.7 Jaws (1975) (Univ) Steven Spielberg n
9 120.1 Doctor Zhivago (1965) (MGM) David Lean n
10 118.9 The Lion King (1994) (BV) Roger Allers, Rob Minkoff M
11 117.1 101 Dalmatians (1961) (BV) Clyde Geronimi, Hamilton Luske, Wolfgang Reitherman M
12 107.8 Ben-Hur (1959) (MGM) William Wyler AA
13 100.8 Star Wars Ep. VI: Return of the Jedi (1983) (Fox) George Lucas M
14 100.4 Star Wars Ep. V: The Empire Strikes Back (1980) (Fox) George Lucas M
15 98.9 The Exorcist (1973) (WB) William Friedkin n M
16 96.0 Star Wars Ep. I: The Phantom Menace (1999) (Fox) George Lucas
17 94.9 Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) (Para) Steven Spielberg n M
18 89.3 Mary Poppins (1964) (BV) Robert Stevenson n M
19 88.4 The Sting (1973) (Univ) George Roy Hill AA
20 84.4 Fantasia (1940) (BV) James Algar, Samuel Armstrong, Ford Beebe, Norm Ferguson, Jim Handley, T. Hee, Wilfred Jackson, Hamilton Luske, Bill Roberts, Paul Satterfield, Deems Taylor M
21 82.4 The Jungle Book (1967) (BV) Wolfgang Reitherman M
22 80.4 Jurassic Park (1993) (Univ) Steven Spielberg
23 79.4 The Graduate (1967) (AVCO Embassy) Mike Nichols n
24 78.3 Avatar (2009) (Fox) James Cameron n
25 77.4 Sleeping Beauty (1959) (BV) Clyde Geronimi, Les Clark, Eric Larson, Wolfgang Reitherman M
26 75.0 Bambi (1942) (BV) David Hand M
27 74.1 Forrest Gump (1994) (Para) Robert Zemeckis AA
28 73.0 The Godfather (1972) (Para) Francis Ford Coppola AA M
29 72.3 Marvel's The Avengers (2012) (Walt Disney) Joss Whedon
30 72.1 Shrek 2 (2004) (DW) Andrew Adamson, Kelly Asbury, Conrad Vernon
31 72.0 Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977) (Columbia) Steven Spielberg M
32 71.9 Grease (1978) (Para) Randal Kleiser M
33 70.9 My Fair Lady (1964) (WB) George Cukor AA M
34 70.7 Beauty and the Beast (1991) (Walt Disney) Gary Trousdale, Kirk Wise n M
35 69.8 Ghostbusters (1984) (Sony) Ivan Reitman
36 69.7 Home Alone (1990) (Fox) Chris Columbus
37 68.3 Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969) (Fox) George Roy Hill n M
38 68.2 The Dark Knight (2008) (WB) Christopher Nolan
39 68.0 Love Story (1970) (Para) Arthur Hiller n
40 68.0 Around the World in Eighty Days (1956) (UA) Michael Anderson AA M
41 67.2 Spider-Man (2002) (Sony) Sam Raimi
42 65.3 Cleopatra (1963) (Fox) Joseph L. Mankiewicz, Darryl F. Zanuck n
43 65.2 Pinocchio (1940) (BV) Ben Sharpsteen, Hamilton Luske, Norman Ferguson, T. Hee, Wilfred Jackson, Jack Kinney, Bill Roberts M
44 65.2 Beverly Hills Cop (1984) (Para) Martin Brest
45 64.4 Independence Day (1996) (Fox) Roland Emmerich
46 64.0 Finding Nemo (2003) (Walt Disney) Andrew Stanton C
47 63.7 American Graffiti (1973) (Univ) George Lucas n
48 63.3 The Robe (1953) (Fox) Henry Koster n
49 63.0 Lady and the Tramp (1955) (BV) Clyde Geronimi, Wilfred Jackson, Hamilton Luske M
50 62.8 Thunderball (1965) (UA) Terence Young
51 62.4 Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest (2006) (BV) Gore Verbinski
52 61.4 Aladdin (1992) (BV) Ron Clements, John Musker
53 61.0 Airport (1970) (Univ) George Seaton n
54 60.7 The Bells of St. Mary's (1945) (RKO) Leo McCarey n
55 60.4 The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003) (NL) Peter Jackson AA
56 60.0 Cinderella (1950) (BV) Clyde Geronimi, Hamilton Luske, Wilfred Jackson M
57 59.6 Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (2009) (Para) Michael Bay
58 59.1 Blazing Saddles (1974) (WB) Mel Brooks
59 58.8 National Lampoon's Animal House (1978) (Univ) John Landis
60 58.7 Batman (1989) (WB) Tim Burton
61 58.6 Superman (1978) (WB) Richard Donner
62 58.3 West Side Story (1961) (MGM) Jerome Robbins, Robert Wise AA
63 58.3 Back To The Future (1985) (Univ) Robert Zemeckis
64 58.2 Tootsie (1982) (Sony) Sydney Pollack n
65 58.1 Spider-Man 2 (2004) (Sony) Sam Raimi
66 58.1 The Greatest Show on Earth (1952) (Para) Cecil B. DeMille AA M
67 57.9 Let's Make Love (1960) (Fox) George Cukor
68 57.3 The Towering Inferno (1974) (Fox) John Guillermin, Irwin Allen n
69 57.3 Star Wars Ep. III: Revenge of the Sith (2005) (Fox) George Lucas
70 57.2 Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (2001) (WB) Chris Columbus
71 56.9 The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002) (NL) Peter Jackson n
72 56.7 This Is the Army (1943) (WB) Michael Curtiz
73 56.7 The Best Years of Our Lives (1946) (RKO) William Wyler AA
74 55.8 Smokey and the Bandit (1977) (Univ) Hal Needham
75 54.4 Saturday Night Fever (1977) (Para) John Badham M
76 54.4 Quo Vadis (1951) (MGM) Mervyn LeRoy
77 54.1 The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001) (NL) Peter Jackson n
78 53.8 Rocky (1976) (UA) John G. Avildsen AA
79 53.7 The Sixth Sense (1999) (BV) M. Night Shyamalan n
80 53.2 From Here to Eternity (1953) (Columbia) Fred Zinnemann
81 53.1 The Poseidon Adventure (1972) (Fox) Ronald Neame
82 53.1 Monsters, Inc. (2001) (Walt Disney) Pete Docter M
83 52.8 Goldfinger (1964) (UA) Guy Hamilton
84 52.6 The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957) (Columbia) David Lean AA
85 52.6 Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984) (Para) Steven Spielberg
86 52.3 It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (1963) (MGM) Stanley Kramer
87 52.1 Toy Story 2 (1999) (BV) John Lasseter
88 52.1 Swiss Family Robinson (1960) (BV) Ken Annakin M
89 52.0 Mrs. Doubtfire (1993) (Fox) Chris Columbus
90 52.0 The Dark Knight Rises (2012) (WB) Christopher Nolan
91 52.0 M.A.S.H. (1970) (Fox) Robert Altman n
92 51.9 The Passion of the Christ (2004) (Newmarket Films) Mel Gibson
93 51.8 For Whom the Bell Tolls (1943) (Para) Sam Wood
94 51.6 One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975) (UA) Miloš Forman AA
95 51.5 The Transformers (2007) (Para) Michael Bay
96 51.3 White Christmas (1954) (Para) Michael Curtiz M
97 50.9 Twister (1996) (WB) Jan de Bont
98 50.8 Toy Story 3 (2010) (BV) Lee Unkrich n C
99 50.7 Men In Black (1997) (Sony) Barry Sonnenfeld
100 50.6 Ghost (1990) (Para) Jerry Zucker n
101 50.2 How the West Was Won (1962) (MGM / Cinerama) John Ford, Henry Hathaway, George Marshall, Richard Thorpe M
102 49.9 Samson and Delilah (1949) (Para) Cecil B. DeMille M
103 49.9 The Longest Day (1962) (Fox) Ken Annakin, Andrew Marton, Bernhard Wicki, Gerd Oswald, Darryl F. Zanuck
104 49.7 South Pacific (1958) (Fox) Joshua Logan M
105 49.5 Song of the South (1946) (BV) Harve Foster, Wilfred Jackson M
106 49.5 Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000) (Univ) Ron Howard
107 49.4 Duel in the Sun (1946) (Selznick Releasing) King Vidor
108 49.3 Lawrence of Arabia (1962) (Columbia) David Lean M
109 49.2 Star Wars Ep. II: Attack of the Clones (2002) (Fox) George Lucas
110 48.9 Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003) (BV) Gore Verbinski
111 48.9 House of Wax (1953) (WB) André de Toth
112 48.6 Peter Pan (1953) (BV) Clyde Geronimi, Wilfred Jackson, Hamilton Luske M
113 48.5 Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989) (Para) Steven Spielberg
114 48.5 Rear Window (1954) (Para) Alfred Hitchcock
115 48.2 Shrek (2001) (DW) Andrew Adamson, Vicky Jenson C
116 47.6 Shrek the Third (2007) (Para) Chris Miller, Raman Hui
117 47.5 Toy Story (1995) (BV) John Lasseter
118 47.3 The Hunger Games (2012) (Lionsgate) Gary Ross
119 47.3 Spider-Man 3 (2007) (Sony) Sam Raimi
120 47.1 Giant (1956) (WB) George Stevens M
121 46.8 Fiddler on the Roof (1971) (UA) Norman Jewison
122 46.6 The Wizard of Oz (1939) Victor Fleming n M
123 46.6 Sergeant York (1941) (WB) Howard Hawks n M
124 46.5 Top Gun (1986) (Para) Tony Scott
125 46.4 The Lost World: Jurassic Park (1997) (Univ) Steven Spielberg
126 46.3 Every Which Way But Loose (1978) (WB) James Fargo
127 46.2 Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part II (2011) (WB) David Yates
128 46.0 Crocodile Dundee (1986) (Para) Peter Faiman
129 45.8 Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002) (WB) Chris Columbus
130 45.6 The Jolson Story (1946) (Columbia) Alfred E. Green
131 45.4 Guess Who's Coming to Dinner (1967) (Columbia) Stanley Kramer n
132 45.4 Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991) (Sony) James Cameron
133 44.7 Going My Way (1944) (Para) Leo McCarey
134 44.4 The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (1921) (MGM) Rex Ingram
135 44.3 Young Frankenstein (1974) (Fox) Mel Brooks
136 44.0 The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (2005) (BV) Andrew Adamson
137 43.7 Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2005) (WB) Mike Newell
138 43.6 The Fugitive (1993) (WB) Andrew Davis n
139 43.6 Funny Girl (1968) (Columbia) William Wyler n
140 43.4 Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End (2007) (BV) Gore Verbinski
141 43.4 Meet the Fockers (2004) (Univ) Jay Roach
142 43.0 The Caine Mutiny (1954) (Columbia) Edward Dmytryk n
143 42.8 Iron Man (2008) (Para) Jon Favreau
144 42.7 Saving Private Ryan (1998) (DW) Steven Spielberg n
145 42.7 Transformers: Dark of the Moon (2011) (Para) Michael Bay
146 42.7 Jaws 2 (1978) (Univ) Jeannot Szwarc
147 42.7 Home Alone 2 (1992) (Fox) Chris Columbus
148 42.7 Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008) (Para) Steven Spielberg
149 42.7 Billy Jack (1971) Tom Laughlin
150 42.6 An Officer and a Gentleman (1982) (Para) Taylor Hackford
151 42.5 Tom Jones (1963) (UA) Tony Richardson
152 42.3 Cast Away (2000) (Fox) Robert Zemeckis
153 42.3 Psycho (1960) (Univ) Alfred Hitchcock
154 42.2 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) (MGM) Stanley Kubrick
155 42.1 Three Men and a Baby (1987) (BV) Leonard Nimoy
156 42.0 Armageddon (1998) (BV) Michael Bay
157 41.9 Peyton Place (1957) (Fox) Mark Robson n
158 41.8 Mrs. Miniver (1942) William Wyler
159 41.8 Spartacus (1960) Stanley Kubrick, Anthony Mann
160 41.7 Gremlins (1984) (WB) Joe Dante
161 41.6 Kramer vs. Kramer (1979) (Columbia) Robert Benton AA
162 41.5 Rain Man (1988) (MGM) Barry Levinson AA
163 41.5 Dances With Wolves (1990) (Orion Pictures) Kevin Costner AA
164 41.5 On Golden Pond (1981) (Univ) Mark Rydell n
165 41.5 Pretty Woman (1990) (BV) Garry Marshall
166 41.4 Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988) (BV) Robert Zemeckis
167 41.1 Rocky III (1982) (MGM) Sylvester Stallone
168 41.0 Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (2007) (WB) David Yates
169 40.9 Earthquake (1974) (Univ) Mark Robson
170 40.9 Alice in Wonderland (2010) (BV) Tim Burton
171 40.7 Sayonara (1957) (WB) Joshua Logan
172 40.7 The Incredibles (2004) (BV) Brad Bird C
173 40.6 The Matrix Reloaded (2003) (WB) Andy Wachowski, Larry Wachowski
174 40.6 Bonnie and Clyde (1967) (WB) Arthur Penn
175 40.6 Heaven Can Wait (1978) (Para) Warren Beatty, Buck Henry
176 40.2 My Big Fat Greek Wedding (2002) (IFC Films) Joel Zwick
177 40.1 20000 Leagues Under The Sea (1954) (BV) Richard Fleischer
178 40.1 Mission: Impossible (1996) (Para) Brian De Palma
179 39.8 Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004) (WB) Alfonso Cuarón
180 39.5 Rambo: First Blood Part 2 (1985) (Sony/TriStar) George P. Cosmatos
181 39.4 Batman Forever (1995) (WB) Joel Schumacher
182 39.3 Fatal Attraction (1987) (Para) Adrian Lyne n
183 39.0 Mission: Impossible II (2000) (Para) John Woo
184 39.0 A Bug's Life (1998) (BV) John Lasseter
185 38.9 Mister Roberts (1955) (WB) John Ford, Mervyn LeRoy n
186 38.9 Bruce Almighty (2003) (Univ) Tom Shadyac
187 38.9 Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2009) (WB) David Yates
188 38.8 Rush Hour 2 (2001) (NL) Brett Ratner
189 38.8 Apollo 13 (1995) (Univ) Ron Howard n
190 38.7 Patton (1970) (Fox) Franklin J. Schaffner
191 38.7 Liar Liar (1997) (Univ) Tom Shadyac
192 38.6 Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (1991) (WB) Kevin Reynolds
193 38.5 The Guns of Navarone (1961) (Columbia) J. Lee Thompson
194 38.3 Pocahontas (1995) (BV) Mike Gabriel, Eric Goldberg
195 38.3 The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975) (Fox) Jim Sharman M
196 38.2 Iron Man 2 (2010) (Para) Jon Favreau
197 38.2 The Twilight Saga: New Moon (2009) (Summit) Chris Weitz
198 37.9 Tarzan (1999) (BV) Chris Buck, Kevin Lima
199 37.7 Up (2009) (BV) Pete Docter n C
200 37.7 9 To 5 (1980) (Fox)
201 37.7 Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me (1999) (NL)
202 37.6 Superman II (1980) (WB) Richard Lester, Richard Donner
203 37.6 The Firm (1993) (Para)
204 37.5 What's Up, Doc? (1972) (WB) Peter Bogdanovich
205 37.1 Stir Crazy (1980) (Columbia)
206 37.0 Night at the Museum (2006) (Fox)
207 36.9 Some Like It Hot (1959)
208 36.8 Air Force One (1997) (Sony)
209 36.8 The Twilight Saga: Eclipse (2010) (Summit)
210 36.8 20000 Leagues Under the Sea (1954) M
211 36.7 There's Something About Mary (1998) (Fox)
212 36.7 Porky's (1982) (Fox)
213 36.6 Beverly Hills Cop 2 (1987) (Para)
214 36.5 Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942)
215 36.4 Batman Returns (1992) (WB)
216 36.4 The Song of Bernadette (1943)
217 36.4 Mom and Dad (1948)
218 36.3 Platoon (1986) (Orion Pictures) AA
219 36.3 A Star Is Born (1976) (WB)
220 36.3 The Dirty Dozen (1967) (MGM)
221 36.2 Lethal Weapon 2 (1989) (WB)
222 36.2 The Trial of Billy Jack (1974)
223 36.1 Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part I (2010) (WB)
224 36.1 Signs (2002) (BV)
225 36.0 The Goodbye Girl (1977) (WB)
226 36.0 The Santa Clause (1994) (BV)
227 36.0 I Am Legend (2007) (WB)
228 36.0 Cars (2006) (BV)
229 35.9 The King and I (1956)
230 35.8 Welcome Stranger (1947)
231 35.8 Inception (2010) (WB) n
232 35.8 Leave Her to Heaven (1945)
Following are some recent hit movies with lower admissions figures than the top 232 on the chart. Because my historical movie data is incomplete, any rank number would be almost meaningless.
33.9 The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Part 1 (2011) (Summit)
33.2 Skyfall (2012) (Sony)
32.3 The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012) (WB)
32.2 The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Part 2 (2012) (Summit)
30.8 The Hangover Part II (2011) (WB)
30.4 The Amazing Spider-Man (2012) (Sony)
29.2 Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (2011) (BV)
27.5 Brave (2012) (Walt Disney)
25.4 Fast Five (2011) (Univ)
25.4 Ted (2012) (Univ)
25.1 Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted (2012) (Para)
24.8 Dr. Seuss' The Lorax (2012) (Univ)
24.3 Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol (2012) (Para)
23.2 Cars 2 (2011) (BV)
All other recent movies have even fewer total admissions, unless I haven't gotten around to updating the totals (if it's more than a month out of date, email me)

To receive a rank number, a newly-released (2013) movie would have to gross at least $322.6 million at the box office.

BV Buena Vista, Disney, Walt Disney, etc.
DW DreamWorks
Fox includes 20th Century Fox
MMax Miramax
NL New Line
Para Paramount
UA United Artists
Univ Universal
WB Warner Brothers

AA: This film received an Academy Award® for Best Picture.
C: This film won a category-specific "best feature" Academy Award® (Best Animated Feature).
HA: Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs received a Special Award (the equivalent of today's Academy Honorary Award) consisting of a full-size Oscar® statuette and seven miniature ones.
n: This film was nominated for an Academy Award® in the Best Picture category.
M: This film has been released more than once (or has been showing every year since its release, in the case of Rocky Horror); the admission total shown here is the total for all release years. In all such cases, the box office for each year was adjusted for inflation separately before adding the years together.


In order to generate these figures (which are only estimates) I had to take many factors into account.

Box office gross figures are the easiest statistic to find. However, many movies have been released more than once and it is very important to find out how much the movie grossed in each different year, because the ticket prices differ from one year to the next. Also, for older movies the box office gross is itself an estimate, because exhibitors (theatres) and studios didn't really keep consistently accurate records on this type of thing until the 1970's.

Adjusted box-office gross figures come from Exhibitor Relations (see below) and account for changes in movie ticket prices (not the "consumer price index", which varies at a different rate).

Current and historical movie ticket prices are published by the Motion Picture Association of America (the MPAA) in their annual report (see below) but for years not mentioned in their report I had to derive estimated ticket prices from the adjusted and unadjusted box office gross figures. Note that these prices might seem low because they include subsequent runs, senior and child discounts, and special pricing.

MPAA ratings are available for movies that received a rating, a process that began around 1968. They are used to estimate child attendance ratios (children throw off the numbers because they pay less). For unrated movies a guess is made as to how much child attendance the movie would have gotten, using other more recent movies as a guide, and assuming that for older movies the audience was generally more balanced because of the lack of ratings and enforcement.

Sources for general information about movies were used to learn more about what movies attract what types of audiences, and to learn about movies whose studios have placed restrictions on discount ticket sales.

All of this information is used to compile a database of movies, each with an average ticket price index (which varies depending on the movie's audience demographics) and a total adjusted gross figure (which properly adjusts the grosses in each year the movie made money). Then, the attendance estimate is computed simply by dividing one by the other.

Future Improvements:

- Some data is lacking for years before 1960, and even more data is lacking for years before 1940.

- I want to find a comprehensive list of movies that have been released with restrictions on discount tickets. While many films restrict discounts during the first few weeks of release, a few restrict discounts during a much longer period.

- I am also in search of information that will help improve estimates of matinee attendance rates and attendance by seniors.

Things That Will (Probably) Never Change:

- Expanding the data to a global (worldwide) context. The problem here is that each nation (or group of nations, as might be the case in certain parts of Europe) has a greater interest in its own local statistics than in the non-local statistics. In other words, if I include movies that aren't popular in the United States, the list will be of less interest to readers in the United States. This list mainly exists for my own benefit, and since I never see movies outside the United States, I have no interest in a global list. I don't want to maintain multiple lists, one is hard enough!


This data was compiled from many sources, including the following. (I know some of the links are dead, but I cannot do anything about that.)

Sources of inflation data (I divide the adjusted gross by the actual gross to get an average ticket price index):

Mr. Showbiz box office receipts adjusted for inflation
The Movie Times' version of the same list (formerly here
The top 25 of the same list, from Washington Post, on
Box Office Report's list (was also here)
BOXOFFICE.COM's similar list
Box Office Mojo's list

Sources of average movie ticket price data:

A Google search for "average cinema ticket price 7.18 7.50 7.89 2011" (or similar, with more recent numbers) will yield re-published reports of the data released by MPAA.
MPAA's 2006 US Theatrical Market Statistics report
MPAA's 2001 economic review
MPAA's 2000 economic review
MPAA's 1999 economic review
MPAA's 1998 economic review
Lee's Movie Info Adjuster

Sources of MPAA ratings (used to estimate child attendance rates):


Sources of old (unadjusted) box office receipts:

Infoplease top 100 all-time list (from Exhibitor Relations) (click on the "Movies and Videos" link to see some other related lists) This chart of historical yearly totals at Infoplease has ticket price figures since 1990
The AMUG list of $100 million movies
The Washington Post list of $100 million movies
The same list, on
Box Office Guru's box office archive's box office archive

Sources of current box office receipts:

The Numbers: Box Office Data, Movie Stars, Idle Speculation
The Movie Times
Yahoo! Movies: Weekly U.S. box office actuals
IMDB's box office charts (follow the links under "US Box Office" in the left column)

Also of interest:

MPAA 2000 report on movie audience demographics
The Internet Movie Database

Industry periodicals (not on-line, but at the library):

Hollywood Reporter
Motion Picture Daily

Not used but possibly interesting:

The United States consumer price index data was not used, because the MPAA average movie ticket price data was more relevant.


1 : For those interested in data for countries other than the United States, here are some links:

Inside Kino has figures for almost all of Europe and Australia. (In German, but easy to navigate: Quartral = "season"; Woche = "week")

Lumiere presents a searchable database and actually gives data in the form of admissions! They have data for Europe and Quebec.

Paul Boschen's Aussie box office lists

2 : The Lumiere database describes their methods and limitations here. Of particular note is this paragraph referring to US and UK data:

Figures provided by the United Kingdom and United States refer to box office receipts rather than the number of tickets sold. In such cases, the number of admissions is estimated by dividing box office recipts by the average ticket price for the year concerned.

3 : See Wikipedia, Demographic history of the United States.

Other acknowledgments:

Some information contributed by: Rolf Polier.

Dead websites:

The Sci Fi Paradise box office list was at

ShowBizData switched to payment-only.

"Academy Award®" is a registered trademark of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

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