US Box Office Top10 from 1990-2009

Some more data for my study, on box office figures. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, read here first.

Here’s the top 10 US box office film income for the years 1990 to 2009. Some of the 09 films are still playing, so that year should be taken with a pinch of salt, but at the same time, they’ll only increase, not decrease.

Year US Top 10 Box Office Total Inflation corrected US top10 Box Office Total Estimated Attendance (US Top10)
1990 $1,281,989,774 $2,112,009,512.36 305,235,660.48
1991 $1,281,989,774 $2,025,260,306.48 304,510,635.15
1992 $1,448,348,483 $2,221,393,378.83 348,999,634.46
1993 $1,534,977,118 $2,287,596,301.04 370,767,419.81
1994 $1,662,675,764 $2,416,679,889.53 407,518,569.61
1995 $1,305,208,489 $1,843,514,814.97 300,047,928.51
1996 $1,651,225,305 $2,265,055,288.07 373,580,385.75
1997 $2,097,682,163 $2,815,680,755.70 457,011,364.49
1998 $1,616,043,282 $2,134,799,579.92 344,572,128.36
1999 $2,130,720,498 $2,752,868,860.47 421,091,007.51
2000 $2,198,250,308 $2,747,812,885.00 407,838,647.12
2001 $2,325,805,315 $2,826,008,888.21 411,646,958.41
2002 $2,527,882,447 $3,023,782,831.34 435,841,801.21
2003 $2,363,209,759 $2,763,988,022.22 391,908,749.42
2004 $2,674,069,989 $3,049,110,591.79 430,607,083.57
2005 $2,415,345,520 $2,663,004,983.46 376,808,973.48
2006 $2,294,855,211 $2,451,768,387.82 350,359,574.20
2007 $2,709,809,739 $2,813,924,962.62 393,867,694.62
2008 $2,530,421,837 $2,530,421,837.00 352,426,439.69
2009 $3,206,432,180 $3,229,035,428.00 427,524,290.67

I’m sure you’ll want to know where the number come from, and it’s easy enough to explain.

  • Year – pretty self explanatory.
  • US Top 10 Box Office Total – The box office figures for the top 10 films of that year are summed. Fairly simple, and a good estimation of the popularity of the ‘big’ films. The source, as always, is BoxofficeMojo
  • Inflation corrected US top10 Box Office Total – Harder to explain, but it’s the previous column, adjusted for inflation to 2008 dollars. This gives a direct comparison. I used the Consumer Price index conversion factor published by Oregon State University. The factors are available here (pdf)
  • Estimated Attendance (US Top10) – This was derived by taking the Combined box office figures (column 2) and dividing by the average yearly cinema ticket price. The average price is published by the National Association of Theatre Owners (NATO) and can be found here.

Now, a bunch of figures is all very well, but what does it mean? To give an illustration, The figures were plotted onto a graph.

“Box Office Figures (click to enlarge)

The blue line is Top 10 combined. The purple line is the inflation-adjusted Top 10, (and are run from the LEFT y-axis) and the red line is the estimated combined attendance (based from the RIGHT Y-axis). The dotted lines for each give you some indication of how the trend is going overall.

What you can see, is that while attendance for these top-10 films are generally moving up somewhat, the income from them is increasing quite substantially. In this case, it’s a combination of ticket prices increasing at greater than inflation, along with a small, but significant general increase in the attendance figures. Box office takings are increasing, and it’s something the MPAA is at the same time issuing press releases about, while at the same time claiming poverty and forgetting about these figures.