Cost of a Movie Ticket the Year You Were Born

For many, a trip to the movie theater can put a serious dent in the wallet. With tickets, popcorn, soda, and candy – the cost quickly adds up. Yet this has hardly ended Americans’ love affair with the movies. In 2016 alone, the movie industry gross in the box office exceeded $11 billion – the greatest yearly amount to date.

One reason for the industry’s high gross figure is ticket prices, which have undergone dramatic increases over the last 70 years. In 1950, a person could purchase a movie ticket for a mere 46 cents on average. By 2016, the average ticket price had increased to $8.65 -- and the increase in ticket prices shows no signs of slowing down.

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Still, the prices of tickets are much more consistent when adjusted for inflation. In fact, ticket prices have actually decreased from the 1971 high of $10.16 in current dollars. The theater-going experience has also improved in many ways. As noted by the National Association of Theatre Owners, projection technology has improved as did seating and food and beverage service in many theaters.

24/7 Wall St. reviewed ticket prices for each year since 1946, in both dollars adjusted and unadjusted for inflation.


2016
> Avg. ticket price: $8.65
> Price adjusted for inflation: $8.94
> Top-grossing movie of the year: Rogue One: A Star Wars Story


2015
> Avg. ticket price: $8.43
> Price adjusted for inflation: $8.84
> Top-grossing movie of the year: Star Wars Ep. VII: The Force Awakens

2014
> Avg. ticket price: $8.17
> Price adjusted for inflation: $8.56
> Top-grossing movie of the year: American Sniper

2013
> Avg. ticket price: $8.13
> Price adjusted for inflation: $8.65
> Top-grossing movie of the year: The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

2012
> Avg. ticket price: $7.96
> Price adjusted for inflation: $8.60
> Top-grossing movie of the year: The Avengers

2011
> Avg. ticket price: $7.93
> Price adjusted for inflation: $8.82
> Top-grossing movie of the year: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part II

2010
> Avg. ticket price: $7.89
> Price adjusted for inflation: $8.92
> Top-grossing movie of the year: Toy Story 3

2009
> Avg. ticket price: $7.50
> Price adjusted for inflation: $8.70
> Top-grossing movie of the year: Avatar

2008
> Avg. ticket price: $7.18
> Price adjusted for inflation: $8.33
> Top-grossing movie of the year: The Dark Knight

2007
> Avg. ticket price: $6.88
> Price adjusted for inflation: $8.33
> Top-grossing movie of the year: Spider-Man 3

2006
> Avg. ticket price: $6.55
> Price adjusted for inflation: $8.09
> Top-grossing movie of the year: Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest

2005
> Avg. ticket price: $6.41
> Price adjusted for inflation: $8.23
> Top-grossing movie of the year: Star Wars Ep. III: Revenge of the Sith

2004
> Avg. ticket price: $6.21
> Price adjusted for inflation: $8.21
> Top-grossing movie of the year: Shrek 2

2003
> Avg. ticket price: $6.03
> Price adjusted for inflation: $8.13
> Top-grossing movie of the year: Finding Nemo

2002
> Avg. ticket price: $5.81
> Price adjusted for inflation: $8.04
> Top-grossing movie of the year: Spider-Man

2001
> Avg. ticket price: $5.66
> Price adjusted for inflation: $7.92
> Top-grossing movie of the year: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

2000
> Avg. ticket price: $5.39
> Price adjusted for inflation: $7.82
> Top-grossing movie of the year: How the Grinch Stole Christmas

1999
> Avg. ticket price: $5.08
> Price adjusted for inflation: $7.57
> Top-grossing movie of the year: Star Wars Ep. I: The Phantom Menace

1998
> Avg. ticket price: $4.69
> Price adjusted for inflation: $7.11
> Top-grossing movie of the year: Saving Private Ryan

1997
> Avg. ticket price: $4.59
> Price adjusted for inflation: $7.07
> Top-grossing movie of the year: Titanic

1996
> Avg. ticket price: $4.42
> Price adjusted for inflation: $7.01
> Top-grossing movie of the year: Independence Day

1995
> Avg. ticket price: $4.35
> Price adjusted for inflation: $7.09
> Top-grossing movie of the year: Toy Story

1994
> Avg. ticket price: $4.18
> Price adjusted for inflation: $7.00
> Top-grossing movie of the year: The Lion King

1993
> Avg. ticket price: $4.14
> Price adjusted for inflation: $7.11
> Top-grossing movie of the year: Jurassic Park

1992
> Avg. ticket price: $4.15
> Price adjusted for inflation: $7.36
> Top-grossing movie of the year: Aladdin

1991
> Avg. ticket price: $4.21
> Price adjusted for inflation: $7.66
> Top-grossing movie of the year: Beauty and the Beast

1990
> Avg. ticket price: $4.22
> Price adjusted for inflation: $8.11
> Top-grossing movie of the year: Home Alone

1989
> Avg. ticket price: $3.99
> Price adjusted for inflation: $8.07
> Top-grossing movie of the year: Batman

1988
> Avg. ticket price: $4.11
> Price adjusted for inflation: $8.70
> Top-grossing movie of the year: Rain Man

1987
> Avg. ticket price: $3.91
> Price adjusted for inflation: $8.61
> Top-grossing movie of the year: 3 Men and a Baby

1986
> Avg. ticket price: $3.71
> Price adjusted for inflation: $8.29
> Top-grossing movie of the year: Top Gun

1985
> Avg. ticket price: $3.55
> Price adjusted for inflation: $8.24
> Top-grossing movie of the year: Back to the Future

1984
> Avg. ticket price: $3.36
> Price adjusted for inflation: $8.08
> Top-grossing movie of the year: Ghostbusters

1983
> Avg. ticket price: $3.15
> Price adjusted for inflation: $7.89
> Top-grossing movie of the year: Star Wars Ep. VI: Return of the Jedi

1982
> Avg. ticket price: $2.94
> Price adjusted for inflation: $7.64
> Top-grossing movie of the year: ET: The Extra-Terrestrial

1981
> Avg. ticket price: $2.78
> Price adjusted for inflation: $7.83
> Top-grossing movie of the year: Raiders of the Lost Ark

1980
> Avg. ticket price: $2.69
> Price adjusted for inflation: $8.47
> Top-grossing movie of the year: Star Wars Ep. V: The Empire Strikes Back

1979
> Avg. ticket price: $2.52
> Price adjusted for inflation: $9.04
> Top-grossing movie of the year: Kramer vs. Kramer

1978
> Avg. ticket price: $2.34
> Price adjusted for inflation: $9.17
> Top-grossing movie of the year: Grease

1977
> Avg. ticket price: $2.23
> Price adjusted for inflation: $9.34
> Top-grossing movie of the year: Star Wars Ep. IV: A New Hope

1976
> Avg. ticket price: $2.13
> Price adjusted for inflation: $9.38
> Top-grossing movie of the year: Rocky

1975
> Avg. ticket price: $2.05
> Price adjusted for inflation: $9.64
> Top-grossing movie of the year: Jaws

1974
> Avg. ticket price: $1.89
> Price adjusted for inflation: $9.93
> Top-grossing movie of the year: Blazing Saddles

1973
> Avg. ticket price: $1.76
> Price adjusted for inflation: $10.12
> Top-grossing movie of the year: The Exorcist

1972
> Avg. ticket price: $1.70
> Price adjusted for inflation: $10.13
> Top-grossing movie of the year: The Godfather

1971
> Avg. ticket price: $1.65
> Price adjusted for inflation: $10.16
> Top-grossing movie of the year: Billy Jack

1970
> Avg. ticket price: $1.55
> Price adjusted for inflation: $10.04
> Top-grossing movie of the year: Love Story

1969
> Avg. ticket price: $1.42
> Price adjusted for inflation: $9.77
> Top-grossing movie of the year: Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid

1968
> Avg. ticket price: $1.31
> Price adjusted for inflation: $9.41
> Top-grossing movie of the year: Funny Girl

1967
> Avg. ticket price: $1.20
> Price adjusted for inflation: $8.93
> Top-grossing movie of the year: The Jungle Book

1966
> Avg. ticket price: $1.10
> Price adjusted for inflation: $8.47
> Top-grossing movie of the year: The Bible

1965
> Avg. ticket price: $1.01
> Price adjusted for inflation: $7.93
> Top-grossing movie of the year: The Sound of Music

1964
> Avg. ticket price: $0.93
> Price adjusted for inflation: $7.37
> Top-grossing movie of the year: Mary Poppins

1963
> Avg. ticket price: $0.85
> Price adjusted for inflation: $6.85
> Top-grossing movie of the year: Cleopatra

1962
> Avg. ticket price: $0.81
> Price adjusted for inflation: $6.61
> Top-grossing movie of the year: The Longest Day

1961
> Avg. ticket price: $0.77
> Price adjusted for inflation: $6.33
> Top-grossing movie of the year: 101 Dalmatians

1960
> Avg. ticket price: $0.75
> Price adjusted for inflation: $6.27
> Top-grossing movie of the year: Swiss Family Robinson

1959
> Avg. ticket price: $0.68
> Price adjusted for inflation: $5.74
> Top-grossing movie of the year: Ben-Hur

1958
> Avg. ticket price: $0.65
> Price adjusted for inflation: $5.57
> Top-grossing movie of the year: South Pacific

1957
> Avg. ticket price: $0.62
> Price adjusted for inflation: $5.50
> Top-grossing movie of the year: The Bridge on the River Kwai

1956
> Avg. ticket price: $0.59
> Price adjusted for inflation: $5.39
> Top-grossing movie of the year: The Ten Commandments

1955
> Avg. ticket price: $0.58
> Price adjusted for inflation: $5.32
> Top-grossing movie of the year: Lady and the Tramp

1954
> Avg. ticket price: $0.55
> Price adjusted for inflation: $5.01
> Top-grossing movie of the year: White Christmas

1953
> Avg. ticket price: $0.51
> Price adjusted for inflation: $4.70
> Top-grossing movie of the year: Peter Pan

1952
> Avg. ticket price: $0.48
> Price adjusted for inflation: $4.44
> Top-grossing movie of the year: The Greatest Show on Earth

1951
> Avg. ticket price: $0.47
> Price adjusted for inflation: $4.53
> Top-grossing movie of the year: Quo Vadis?

1950
> Avg. ticket price: $0.46
> Price adjusted for inflation: $4.79
> Top-grossing movie of the year: Cinderella

1949
> Avg. ticket price: $0.46
> Price adjusted for inflation: $4.69
> Top-grossing movie of the year: Samson and Delilah

1948
> Avg. ticket price: $0.44
> Price adjusted for inflation: $4.55
> Top-grossing movie of the year: The Snake Pit

1947
> Avg. ticket price: $0.44
> Price adjusted for inflation: $5.01
> Top-grossing movie of the year: Forever Amber

1946
> Avg. ticket price: $0.42
> Price adjusted for inflation: $5.65
> Top-grossing movie of the year: Song of the South

Methodology:

To find the cost of a movie ticket the year you were born, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed cost data for each year since 1946 provided by the National Association of Theatre Owners. The prices from 1989 onward have been calculated, according to NATO, “by surveying movie theater companies and asking for their total box office and total tickets sold. The box office is divided by the number of tickets sold to arrive at the average ticket price for the industry.” 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.

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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, comes from movie industry data site The Numbers.

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