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80's movie box office: the numbers game

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80's movies box office totals can be misleading, from population increases to inflation and currency changes, the numbers can be quite unreliable when comparing them over a long period of time.

When looking at the figures such as those in the Top 100 box for 1980-89 here are just some things to consider:
  • Figures are in $US at the time of release.
  • Exchange rates varied over the course of the 80's and throughout the nineties.
  • The population of the planet was 4.4 billion in 1980. In 1999, this figure passed 6 billion (this is important when using the box office to determine the popularity of a movie). For population increases, see World population figures for 1980-1989
  • Allowances for inflation and ticket price rises or falls have not been included
  • Many countries have improved living standards since the early 80's - allowing the luxury of cinema to be given to a new audience
  • Figures vary greatly from year to year depending on economic conditions and quality of movies.

Total box office takings by year (in million $US)























  • In the early 80's there was a world-wide recession, followed by massive economic growth at the end of the 80's - this is reflected in the totals
  • The introduction of home video in the early 80's had an effect on box office (figures suggest that there was a slump, but after the novelty had worn off this also encouraged the people back into the cinema later in the decade
  • Note also that the figures for the early part of the decade are likely to be understated due to difficultly in finding figures for all the movies released in the first few years.
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