What movie has sold the most tickets ever? Looking at the all time box office grosses shows Avatar is currently the highest grossing film of all time grossing 760 million dollars. In terms of actual physical money made, Avatar is the highest grossing film. If you were to look at tickets sold, Avatar is unlikely to be in the top 20 of all time ticket sales.
The record for most ticket sales belongs to an earlier movie, Gone with the Wind. Avatar‘s 760 million dollars was in theaters in 2009 and 2010. Gone with the Wind was released in 1939. If released when Avatar was, it would’ve made around 1.5 billion dollars: double what Avatar made.
In 1939 the cost of a movie ticket was on average 23 cents, and the average ticket price when Avatar was released in 2009 and 2010 was $7.50. In 1939 Avatar would’ve made 22 million dollars, while Gone with the Wind made 190 million dollars. Some other movies that easily sold more tickets than Avatar are The Sound of Music, Star Wars and Titanic.
The key issue with ticket price inflation is it has led to huge box office numbers but far lower movie attendance. Since 2005 movie attendance has decreased each subsequent year except one, while box office profits have hit record highs.
When Gone With the Wind came out for 23 cents, you got both the movie and they would play some sort of short subject movie and a newsreel. Gone with the Wind was too long for this, but most other movies playing in a theater at that time would show the main movie people came to see, along with a completely different movie called a B movie. The issue here is simply people used to get a lot more for a lot less when they went to the movie.