Box office
A box office is a place where ticket
Ticket (admission)
A ticket is a voucher that indicates that one has paid for admission to an event or establishment such as a theatre, movie theater, amusement park, zoo, museum, concert, or other attraction, or permission to travel on a vehicle such as an airliner, train, bus, or boat, typically because one has...

s are sold to the public for admission
Admission to an event or establishment
Admission to a journey or other event or establishment may be subject to paying an entrance fee / buying a ticket. A pass may give admittance without a ticket for a given time period, or give the right to obtain free tickets. A discount pass allows buying tickets at a reduced price...

 to an event. Patrons may perform the transaction at a countertop
Countertop usually refers to a horizontal worksurface in kitchens or other food preparation areas, bathrooms or lavatories, and workrooms in general. It is frequently installed upon and supported by cabinets...

, through an unblocked hole through a wall or window, or at a wicket
Wicket (retail)
A wicket, in British English, is the place where a customer performs a transaction with a customer service representative in a retail context. In American English, equivalent terms include counter or point-of-sale....


By extension, the term is frequently used, especially in the context of the film industry
Film industry
The film industry consists of the technological and commercial institutions of filmmaking: i.e. film production companies, film studios, cinematography, film production, screenwriting, pre-production, post production, film festivals, distribution; and actors, film directors and other film crew...

, as a synonym for the amount of business a particular production, such as a film
A film, also called a movie or motion picture, is a series of still or moving images. It is produced by recording photographic images with cameras, or by creating images using animation techniques or visual effects...

 or theatre
Theatre is a collaborative form of fine art that uses live performers to present the experience of a real or imagined event before a live audience in a specific place. The performers may communicate this experience to the audience through combinations of gesture, speech, song, music or dance...

 show, receives. The term can also mean factors which may influence this amount, as in the phrases "good box office" and "bad box office".


Box office business can be measured in terms of the number of people who see it or the amount of money raised by ticket sales (revenue
In business, revenue is income that a company receives from its normal business activities, usually from the sale of goods and services to customers. In many countries, such as the United Kingdom, revenue is referred to as turnover....

). The projection and analysis of these earnings is very important for the creative industries and often a source of interest for fans. This is predominant in the Hollywood movie industry.

Some complain that industry focus on profit has diminished the attention given to film as an art form. However, analysis of the financial success of films is very influential for the production and funding of future works.

There are numerous websites that monitor box-office receipts, such as ShowBIZ Data
ShowBIZ Data
ShowBIZ Data is a website that tracks domestic and international box office and other performance related information. Established by producer Oliver Eberle in 1997, and based on the principle that understanding the information based upon which movies are made is key to working in Hollywood,...

 and Box Office Mojo
Box Office Mojo
Box Office Mojo is a website that tracks box office revenue in a systematic, algorithmic way. Brandon Gray started the site in 1999. In 2002, Gray partnered with Sean Saulsbury and they grew the site to nearly two million readers when, in July 2008, the company was purchased by through...

. For a list of films which are major box-office hits, see List of highest-grossing films.

On average, the movie's distributor
Film distributor
A film distributor is a company or individual responsible for releasing films to the public either theatrically or for home viewing...

 receives more than half of the revenue, with the remainder kept by the movie theater
Movie theater
A movie theater, cinema, movie house, picture theater, film theater is a venue, usually a building, for viewing motion pictures ....

. The split varies from movie to movie, and the percentage for the distributor is generally higher in early weeks. Usually the distributor gets a percentage of the revenue after first deducting a "house allowance" or "house nut". It is also common that the distributor gets either a percentage of the gross revenue, or a higher percentage of the revenue after deducting the nut, whichever is larger.

Related film industry terminology

The following is film industry specific terminology as defined by Box Office Mojo
Box Office Mojo
Box Office Mojo is a website that tracks box office revenue in a systematic, algorithmic way. Brandon Gray started the site in 1999. In 2002, Gray partnered with Sean Saulsbury and they grew the site to nearly two million readers when, in July 2008, the company was purchased by through...

For movies released in North America, box office figures are usually divided between domestic, meaning U.S. and Canada, and foreign which includes all other countries. Weekly box office figures are taken to be from Friday through Thursday to allow for the fact that most movies are released on a Friday. A large component of this is the weekend box office, defined as the box office receipts from Friday through Sunday. In particular, the weekend box office for the initial week of release, or opening weekend, is often widely reported. (See List of biggest opening weekends.)

Theaters is the number of theaters in which the movie is showing. Since a single theater may show a movie on multiple screens, the total number of screens is used as another measure. The theaters measure is used to determine whether a movie is in wide release
Wide release
Wide release is a term in the American motion picture industry for a motion picture that is playing nationally . Specifically, a movie is considered to be in wide release when it is on 600 screens or more in the United States and Canada.In the US, films holding an NC-17 rating almost never have a...

, meaning at least 600 theaters, or limited release
Limited release
Limited release is a term in the American motion picture industry for a motion picture that is playing in a select few theaters across the country ....

 which is less than 600 theaters. Occasionally, a movie may achieve wide release after an initial limited release; Little Miss Sunshine
Little Miss Sunshine
Little Miss Sunshine is a 2006 American comedy-drama film. The road movie's plot follows a family's trip to a children's beauty pageant.Little Miss Sunshine was the directorial film debut of the husband-wife team of Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris. The screenplay was written by first-time writer...

 is an example of this.


The term box office likely refers to the office where "boxes", private seating areas, were sold at theatres and its usage derives back to the 1780s. Theatres today still have boxes, and some cinemas and theatres refer to the best seats as box seats.

The term also possibly originates from Shakespearean times, in which boxes would be used to collect a fee. However, due to thieves, the boxes would only contain a small amount of money, and the full boxes would be placed in an office, collectively called a "Box Office".

See also

  • Box office bomb
    Box office bomb
    The phrase box office bomb refers to a film for which the production and marketing costs greatly exceeded the revenue regained by the movie studio. This should not be confused with Hollywood accounting when official figures show large losses, yet the movie is a financial success.A film's financial...

  • List of biggest box office bombs
  • Lists of box office number-one films
  • List of highest-grossing films
  • List of biggest opening weekends
  • Will call
    Will call
    Will call is a North American term for a box office where patrons of entertainment venues go to pick up pre-purchased tickets for an event, such as a play or concert, either just before the event, or in advance. With the onset of the Internet and e-commerce sites, which allow customers to buy...

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