The Cost of a Movie Ticket the Year You Were Born

Movie ticket prices

Cheapism / DALL-E 3

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Ticket Booth Attendant Talking on the Phone
Photo by David Butow/Corbis via Getty Images

Reel-y Expensive

With the cost of just about everything going up, making us long for a simpler (read: cheaper) time, it got me wondering about the time-honored tradition of going to the movies. Obviously, the cost of a ticket to sit in the dark with a bunch of strangers has increased over the years, but by how much? And what does that translate to in today's dollar?

First, a few notes on how I compiled this information. I looked at average ticket price data from, but that hasn't always been consistently collected. For the years where there is missing data (noted with an * next to the ticket cost), I estimated them using linear growth between two known dates. So if 1943 was $0.25 and 1945 was $0.27, I estimated 1944 as $0.26. Okay, glad to have that out of the way. 

Second, the cost adjusted for inflation was calculated using the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics online inflation calculator

Lastly, I threw in the highest-grossing film and winner of the Academy Award for 'Best Picture' for each year. Just thought this would be fun to have. One thing to acknowledge here (before someone yells at me in the comments) is that while 'Best Picture' in spirit has been around since 1929, in name it's only been around since 1962. Before that, it was known as 'Outstanding Picture,' 'Outstanding Production,' 'Outstanding Motion Picture,' and 'Best Motion Picture.' But if we all agree not to make a fuss about the semantics, we can get right to it. 

Movie poster for Cinderella (1950)


Cost of a movie ticket: $0.40*

Cost adjusted for inflation: $5.25

Highest-grossing film: "Cinderella"

Winner of 'Best Picture': "All About Eve"

Quo Vadis movie poster


Cost of a movie ticket: $0.43*

Cost adjusted for inflation: $5.22

Highest-grossing film: "Quo Vadis"

Winner of 'Best Picture': "An American In Paris"

The Greatest Show on Earth movie poster
Paramount Pictures


Cost of a movie ticket: $0.45*

Cost adjusted for inflation: $5.24

Highest-grossing film: "The Greatest Show on Earth"

Winner of 'Best Picture': "The Greatest Show on Earth"

Peter Pan 1953 Movie Poster


Cost of a movie ticket: $0.47*

Cost adjusted for inflation: $5.45

Highest-grossing film: "Peter Pan"

Winner of 'Best Picture': "From Here to Eternity"

White Christmas movie poster
Paramount Pictures


Cost of a movie ticket: $0.49

Cost adjusted for inflation: $5.62

Highest-grossing film: "White Christmas"

Winner of 'Best Picture': "On the Waterfront"

Lady and the Tramp poster


Cost of a movie ticket: $0.54*

Cost adjusted for inflation: $6.24

Highest-grossing film: "Lady and the Tramp"

Winner of 'Best Picture': "Marty"

The Ten Commandments movie poster
Paramount Pictures


Cost of a movie ticket: $0.59*

Cost adjusted for inflation: $6.79

Highest-grossing film: "The Ten Commandments"

Winner of 'Best Picture': "Around the World in 80 Days"

Columbia Pictures


Cost of a movie ticket: $0.63*

Cost adjusted for inflation: $7.04

Highest-grossing film: "The Bridge on the River Kwai"

Winner of 'Best Picture': "The Bridge on the River Kwai"

South Pacific movie poster
20th Century Fox


Cost of a movie ticket: $0.68

Cost adjusted for inflation: $7.33

Highest-grossing film: "South Pacific"

Winner of 'Best Picture': "Gigi"

Ben Hur movie poster


Cost of a movie ticket: $0.72*

Cost adjusted for inflation: $7.66

Highest-grossing film: "Ben-Hur"

Winner of 'Best Picture': "Ben-Hur"

Swiss Family Robinson


Cost of a movie ticket: $0.75*

Cost adjusted for inflation: $7.89

Highest-grossing film: "Swiss Family Robinson"

Winner of 'Best Picture': "The Apartment"

101 Dalmatians movie poster


Cost of a movie ticket: $0.79*

Cost adjusted for inflation: $8.18

Highest-grossing film: "101 Dalmatians"

Winner of 'Best Picture': "West Side Story"

Lawrence of Arabia movie Poster
Columbia Pictures


Cost of a movie ticket: $0.82*

Cost adjusted for inflation: $8.43

Highest-grossing film: "The Longest Day"

Winner of 'Best Picture': "Lawrence of Arabia"

Cleopatra movie poster
20th Century Fox


Cost of a movie ticket: $0.86

Cost adjusted for inflation: $8.72

Highest-grossing film: "Cleopatra"

Winner of 'Best Picture': "Tom Jones"

Mary Poppins movie poster


Cost of a movie ticket: $0.95*

Cost adjusted for inflation: $9.48

Highest-grossing film: "Mary Poppins"

Winner of 'Best Picture': "My Fair Lady"

The Sound of Music movie poster
20th Century Fox


Cost of a movie ticket: $1.04*

Cost adjusted for inflation: $10.28

Highest-grossing film: "The Sound of Music"

Winner of 'Best Picture': "The Sound of Music"

The Bible movie poster
20th Century Fox


Cost of a movie ticket: $1.13*

Cost adjusted for inflation: $10.96

Highest-grossing film: "The Bible"

Winner of 'Best Picture': "A Man for All Seasons"

The Graduate movie poster
United Artists


Cost of a movie ticket: $1.22

Cost adjusted for inflation: $11.44

Highest-grossing film: "The Graduate"

Winner of 'Best Picture': "In the Heat of the Night"

Funny Girl movie poster
Columbia Pictures


Cost of a movie ticket: $1.33*

Cost adjusted for inflation: $12.03

Highest-grossing film: "Funny Girl"

Winner of 'Best Picture': "Oliver!"

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid movie poster
20th Century Fox


Cost of a movie ticket: $1.44*

Cost adjusted for inflation: $12.48

Highest-grossing film: "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid"

Winner of 'Best Picture': "Midnight Cowboy"

Love Story movie poster
Paramount Pictures


Cost of a movie ticket: $1.54*

Cost adjusted for inflation: $12.57

Highest-grossing film: "Love Story"

Winner of 'Best Picture': "Patton"

Billy Jack movie poster
Warner Bros


Cost of a movie ticket: $1.65

Cost adjusted for inflation: $12.79

Highest-grossing film: "Billy Jack"

Winner of 'Best Picture': "The French Connection"

The Godfather movie poster
Paramount Pictures


Cost of a movie ticket: $1.73*

Cost adjusted for inflation: $12.98

Highest-grossing film: "The Godfather"

Winner of 'Best Picture': "The Godfather"

The Exorcist movie poster
Warner Bros


Cost of a movie ticket: $1.81*

Cost adjusted for inflation: $13.10

Highest-grossing film: "The Exorcist"

Winner of 'Best Picture': "The Sting"

The Towering Inferno movie poster
Warner Bros


Cost of a movie ticket: $1.89

Cost adjusted for inflation: $12.51

Highest-grossing film: "The Towering Inferno"

Winner of 'Best Picture': "The Godfather Part II"

Jaws movie poster
Universal Pictures


Cost of a movie ticket: $2.03

Cost adjusted for inflation: $12.02

Highest-grossing film: "Jaws"

Winner of 'Best Picture': "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest"

Rocky movie poster
United Artists


Cost of a movie ticket: $2.13

Cost adjusted for inflation: $11.82

Highest-grossing film: "Rocky"

Winner of 'Best Picture': "Rocky"

Star Wars: A New Hope movie poster
20th Century Fox


Cost of a movie ticket: $2.23

Cost adjusted for inflation: $11.76

Highest-grossing film: "Star Wars: A New Hope"

Winner of 'Best Picture': "Annie Hall"

Grease movie poster
Paramount Pictures


Cost of a movie ticket: $2.34

Cost adjusted for inflation: $11.55

Highest-grossing film: "Grease"

Winner of 'Best Picture': "The Deer Hunter"

Superman movie poster
Warner Bros


Cost of a movie ticket: $2.47

Cost adjusted for inflation: $11.15

Highest-grossing film: "Superman"

Winner of 'Best Picture': "Kramer vs. Kramer"

Empire Strikes Back movie poster
20th Century Fox


Cost of a movie ticket: $2.69

Cost adjusted for inflation: $10.66

Highest-grossing film: "Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back"

Winner of 'Best Picture': "Ordinary People"

Raiders of the Lost Ark movie poster
Paramount Pictures


Cost of a movie ticket: $2.78

Cost adjusted for inflation: $9.86

Highest-grossing film: "Raiders of the Lost Ark"

Winner of 'Best Picture': "Chariots of Fire"

E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial movie poster
Universal Pictures


Cost of a movie ticket: $2.94

Cost adjusted for inflation: $9.62

Highest-grossing film: "E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial"

Winner of 'Best Picture': "Gandhi"

Return of the Jedi movie poster
20th Century Fox


Cost of a movie ticket: $3.15

Cost adjusted for inflation: $9.93

Highest-grossing film: "Star Wars: Return of the Jedi"

Winner of 'Best Picture': "Terms of Endearment"

Ghostbusters movie poster
Columbia Pictures


Cost of a movie ticket: $3.36

Cost adjusted for inflation: $10.17

Highest-grossing film: "Ghostbusters"

Winner of 'Best Picture': "Amadeus"

Back to the Future movie poster
Universal Pictures


Cost of a movie ticket: $3.55

Cost adjusted for inflation: $10.38

Highest-grossing film: "Back to the Future"

Winner of 'Best Picture': "Out of Africa"

Top Gun movie poster
Paramount Pictures


Cost of a movie ticket: $3.71

Cost adjusted for inflation: $10.44

Highest-grossing film: "Top Gun"

Winner of 'Best Picture': "Platoon"

Beverly Hills Cop II movie poster
Paramount Pictures


Cost of a movie ticket: $3.91

Cost adjusted for inflation: $10.84

Highest-grossing film: "Beverly Hills Cop II"

Winner of 'Best Picture': "The Last Emperor"

Who Framed Roger Rabbit movie poster
Touchstone Pictures


Cost of a movie ticket: $4.11

Cost adjusted for inflation: $10.96

Highest-grossing film: "Who Framed Roger Rabbit"

Winner of 'Best Picture': "Rain Man"

Batman movie poster
Warner Bros


Cost of a movie ticket: $3.99

Cost adjusted for inflation: $10.16

Highest-grossing film: "Batman"

Winner of 'Best Picture': "Driving Miss Daisy"

Ghost movie poster
Paramount Pictures


Cost of a movie ticket: $4.22

Cost adjusted for inflation: $10.22

Highest-grossing film: "Ghost"

Winner of 'Best Picture': "Dances With Wolves"

Terminator 2 movie poster
Tri-Star Pictures


Cost of a movie ticket: $4.21

Cost adjusted for inflation: $9.65

Highest-grossing film: "Terminator 2: Judgment Day"

Winner of 'Best Picture': "The Silence of the Lambs"

Batman Returns movie poster
Warner Bros


Cost of a movie ticket: $4.15

Cost adjusted for inflation: $9.27

Highest-grossing film: "Batman Returns"

Winner of 'Best Picture': "Unforgiven"

Jurassic Park movie poster
Universal Pictures


Cost of a movie ticket: $4.14

Cost adjusted for inflation: $8.95

Highest-grossing film: "Jurassic Park"

Winner of 'Best Picture': "Schindler's List"

The Lion King movie poster


Cost of a movie ticket: $4.08

Cost adjusted for inflation: $8.61

Highest-grossing film: "The Lion King"

Winner of 'Best Picture': "Forrest Gump"

Batman Forever movie poster
Warner Bros


Cost of a movie ticket: $4.35

Cost adjusted for inflation: $8.93

Highest-grossing film: "Batman Forever"

Winner of 'Best Picture': "Braveheart"

Independence Day movie poster
20th Century Fox


Cost of a movie ticket: $4.42

Cost adjusted for inflation: $8.83

Highest-grossing film: "Independence Day"

Winner of 'Best Picture': "The English Patient"

Titanic movie poster


Cost of a movie ticket: $4.59

Cost adjusted for inflation: $8.90

Highest-grossing film: "Titanic"

Winner of 'Best Picture': "Titanic"

Armageddon movie poster
Touchstone Pictures


Cost of a movie ticket: $4.69

Cost adjusted for inflation: $8.95

Highest-grossing film: "Armageddon"

Winner of 'Best Picture': "Shakespeare in Love"

Star Wars: The Phantom Menace


Cost of a movie ticket: $5.06

Cost adjusted for inflation: $9.50

Highest-grossing film: "Star Wars: The Phantom Menace"

Winner of 'Best Picture': "American Beauty"

Mission Impossible 2 movie poster
Paramount Pictures


Cost of a movie ticket: $5.39

Cost adjusted for inflation: $9.85

Highest-grossing film: "Mission: Impossible 2"

Winner of 'Best Picture': "Gladiator"

Graph of the cost of a movie ticket from 1950-2000, with inflation adjusted

1973 Was the Most Expensive Year To Go to the Movies

Perhaps the most surprising thing we found was that 1973 was a VERY expensive year to go to the movies. In fact, it was almost 43% more expensive than a ticket in the '90s. 

Do you know why it was so expensive in '73? Do you have a favorite childhood memory of going to the movies? Tell us in the comments!