Overthinking box office figures

I’ve recently discovered “Overthinking It” a brilliant blog specialising in over analysis of pop culture.

They don’t like Avatar much over there (and I must confess I still haven’t seen it).

But they make a good point about how unfair it is to measure movies by box office spend:

In 1997, I paid $7 to see Titanic.

In 2009, I paid $15 to see Avatar.

Even adjusted for inflation, this is insane.

I tend to like densely populated places, so these were both fairly high prices for movie tickets at the time, and location isn’t a major contributor toward the change in ticket price. Yes, I saw Avatar in 3D, but the 3D is there specifically to raise the price of the ticket, not because of the higher costs. It’s price inflation disguised as a “value-add.” For the sake of box office numbers, that doesn’t really matter, now does it?

Furthermore, according to the World Bank:

In 1997, combined global gross domestic product was $30.1 trillion in nominal terms.

In 2008 (the latest year of available data), it was $60.6 trillion.

So, between Titanic and Avatar, the price of my ticket more than doubled, and the size of the global economy also more than doubled. Talk about a fair fight.

But, to offer a little more insight, from the same source:

In 1997, the gross domestic product of China in dollar terms was $953 billion.

In 2008, it was $4.33 trillion.

That’s an increase of 354%.