The New York Times Best Seller list is based on the number of books sold. Television ratings report how many people watched the program. Broadway World posts the number of seats sold for each show each week alongside the gross. Hell, you can see how many tickets each movie sold in Japan and France, yet in the domestic market (U.S. and Canada), we only get box office grosses. Box office is a measure of profitability, not popularity. Box office says the New Yorker who buys a $20 ticket for an IMAX 3D showing at the AMC Empire 25 is four times as important as the Illinoisian who buys a $5 ticket for a Sunday matinee at the AMC Mt Vernon 8. Let the accountants worry about revenue—I only care about how many people saw the thing.
Eventually I’d like to find a better way to rank the highest-grossing movies of all time, but this edition of Cinemath will start where most other box office statisticians do: adjust for ticket price inflation. More after the jump.