Box office watchers have long taken inflation into consideration when factoring in how films from different eras stack up against one another at the box office, but it’s even more interesting when you look at how films compare in terms of raw numbers of tickets sold.
As regular users of super-site Box Office Mojo, we thought we’d found all the cool hidden tools to compare movies in bizarre ways, but thanks to Twitter friend @BrianWCollins, we’ve learned something new today: the site allows users to not only compare financial data, but numbers of tickets sold too.
Collins discovered that The Dark Knight Rises is actually on pace to sell 10 million fewer tickets than Tim Burton’s 1989 Batman. That seems staggering when you stop to think about it – given how Nolan’s Bat films have done huge business at the box office.
However, when Box Office Mojo took the average ticket price for each year and worked backwards from the total box office haul to figure out the raw number of tickets sold for each film, the numbers spoke for themselves. Batman sold an estimated 62,954,600 tickets back in 1989 with an average price of $3.97. The Dark Knight Rises, meanwhile, has sold 50,635,700 tickets to date at an average price of $8.02 per ticket – a 12 million ticket gap.
While not an exact science by any stretch of the imagination, the number of tickets sold estimates really put the box office power of successful films into perspective. Numerical amounts like a billion dollars are clearly huge – but when you start thinking about 63 million tickets, one gets a more exact feel for how many people paid to see a film. 63 million means roughly one in four Americans saw Batman at the theater in 1989 (which is again an estimate, some people saw it more than once).
That being said, even Burton’s Batman was no match for The Avengers – Marvel’s superhero dream team has sold 76 million tickets to date, enough to beat both Keaton and Nicholson and Bale and Ledger’s output (The Dark Knight logged an estimated 74 million sales).
If you’re bored, or want to dig deeper into these stats for your own amusement, swing by Box Office Mojo. Search for a movie, then click the drop-down menu in the upper right corner and you can adjust figures for inflation in different years or view estimated ticket sales numbers in order to see how movies from different eras stack up. If you want to learn more about Box Office Mojo’s methodology, you can read up on it on their Adjusting for Ticket Price Inflation page.
Follow along on Twitter @Horrorgeek and @Moviesdotcom.