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Tickets sold at the North American box office from 1980 to 2020

In 2020, the number of movie admissions stood at 223 million, this is significant drop from the previous year due to the consequences of the coronavirus pandemic.

The number of admissions ordinarily depends on a number of factors, but whether not a movie fan visits the cinema often comes down to personal preference and choice. However, when cinemas closed in spring 2020 in an attempt to curb the spread of the coronavirus, choice was no longer a factor. With movie theaters likely to be out of action for a significant portion of 2020, admissions numbers are set to plummet, along with ticket sales and box office revenue.

What can affect ticket sales?

The factors influencing movie ticket sales are many, with the appeal of current movies (or lack thereof) being the most obvious reason why a film fan may purchase more or fewer tickets over the course of a year.

However, surveys have revealed that the general public, at least in the United States, are not necessarily happy with how expensive visits to the cinema have become. In 2018, a study showed that the majority of U.S. respondents cited the cost of movie tickets as the main reason for seeing fewer movies in theaters. These concerns are not unfounded – the average price of a movie theater ticket in North America was 9.11 U.S. dollars in 2018, an increase of 14 cents from the previous year. Whilst this may not sound like much, ticket prices have been climbing for years, and with the average number of people per family in the U.S. standing at 3.14, a family trip to the movies could cost almost 30 dollars. This is before purchasing concessions, which rarely provide the best value for money. The price of concessions in movie theaters was also a reason why U.S. adults said they made fewer trips to the cinema than they used to.

Costs: streaming services vs. movie theater tickets

The experience of going to the cinema versus an evening spent indoors watching Netflix content are two very different things. However, the content available to watch in each scenario is also very different, and therein lies the appeal of streaming services. Not only do such services offer their subscribers the chance to enjoy content at their leisure in their own home, the monthly costs of certain video services are close to matching the price of a cinema ticket. Monthly fees for certain streaming subscriptions can be as little as nine to 15 dollars per month, for the benefit of being able to access the content you want, when you want. When compared to paying over nine dollars for a movie theater ticket, streaming is certainly the better value option.

Number of movie tickets sold in the U.S. and Canada from 1980 to 2020

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Release date

January 2021


Canada, United States

Survey time period

1980 to 2020

Special properties

data accessed on January 22, 2021

Supplementary notes

Data prior to 1995 comes from previous reports and from a separate source.

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Statistics on "Box office in the U.S."

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