In Latin America, a Trip to the Movie Theater Can Cost a Day’s Work

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Mexican theatergoers are crazy about movies. With over 257 million tickets sold just last year, the country of 120 million leaves the rest of the region in the dust and sits comfortably at the top of the major leagues of theater attendance, just behind India, the U.S., and China, and ahead of cinephile nations like France and Russia. While this is certainly an impressive feat for the nation that brought the world Cantinflas, Dolores del Río, and El Santo, it’s even more impressive considering that a trip to the movies for an average family of four costs the equivalent of an eight-hour salary. Pérate, wha?

Yeah, that’s the latest disheartening calculation from Mexican media outlet Sin Embargo, which took the income details from the country’s Consejo Nacional de Evaluación de la Política de Desarrollo Social, and mashed them up with stats from the Camara Nacional de la Industria del Cine to paint this bleak panorama. But don’t think this is because ticket prices are exceptionally high in La Tierra del Nopal. In fact, Mexico is known as having the lowest ticket prices in the region, at an average of 46 pesos, currently $2.77 and dropping fast. The real problem is that the average daily salary south of the border is a paltry 441 pesos ($26.50), which is still only a pipe dream for the more than 63 million Mexicans who live on something closer to $5 a day.

Now if you happen to be a math whiz and noticed that these numbers don’t quite add up, that’s because Sin Embargo’s calculation included two buckets of popcorn and four soft drinks, which tipped the scales with a snack total of 304 pesos. Based on the average U.S. hourly wage of $21.74, that’s as if four movie tickets and the requisite tooth-decaying movie theater goodies cost around $170 in the U.S. And we wonder why Mexicans are so averse to seeing narco-violence and political corruption on the big screen. If I paid $170 for anything lasting less than two hours, it would be to forget the fact that I just paid $170.

Of course, we know that Mexican salaries are some of the lowest in all of Latin America, so here at Remezcla, we decided to take this investigation a step further and do the same calculations for a handful of other countries from the region. Here are the results of our super scientific inquiry.

Ticket prices and monthly wages are listed in U.S. dollars.


Average ticket price: $8
Average monthly wage: $330 ($2.06/hour*)

*Calculated based on four 40-hour work weeks.


Average ticket price: $5.97
Average monthly wage (Montevideo): $777 ($4.85/hour)


Average ticket price: $5.90
Average monthly wage: $842.43 ($5.27/hour)


Average ticket price: $4.35
Average monthly wage: $692 ($4.32/hour)


Average ticket price: $3.80
Average monthly wage: $486.69/month ($3.04/hour)

Dominican Republic

Average ticket price: $3.56
Average monthly wage: $395.19 ($2.46/hour)