Home > Analysis, Cinema figures, Research > US Box Office Top10 from 1990-2009

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.

  1. Kadai
    March 11, 2010 at 17:44

    And this numbers only show the performance of their films inside USA, now, imagine how much those numbers will grow if you ADD the world total.

    Where it is bankruptcy? That is just a lie, a big lie to actually steal much more money from the people.

    Like you point out, is very interesting that the quantity of people has not decreased, but increased sightly, with a very interesting increase of profits along time.

    Now, I think that the economic crisis affect that industry much more than piracy, as I somewhat note with those valleys on the graph… or maybe they also were bad seasons with horrible movies?

    Of course, well administrated, those companies will last forever… except if the executives someday decide to buy toilet paper at $1,000,000 each, and pay themselves ultra juicy checks.

    • ktetch
      March 11, 2010 at 18:12

      Two of the areas I’m looking at right this minute, are the world box office values for those 10 films per year, and the reported total US box office income for ALL films in a year. I’m just deciding what to work on first.

      Going back to this year, one of the reasons for the spike in 97 and a drop in 1998, is the same reason there will probably be a spike in 2009, and a drop in 2010 figures. The blockbuster, number 1 film of that year was released right at the end of the year. In the case of 1997/8 that film was Titanic, and for 09/10 it will be Avatar.

  1. March 11, 2010 at 18:13
  2. June 24, 2010 at 17:23
  3. November 20, 2013 at 14:08

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