The average movie goer doesn't know what goes on behind the box office of their neighbourhood theatre, let alone hundreds of theatres across the country. The average movie goer will simply walk up to the box office (electronic kiosk, online box office, mobile, etc.) pay their admission fee, grab some popcorn and find their seats.
What most movie goers don't know, is what happens to their admission fee once it reaches the box office.
When you pay your admission fee at the box office that money gets split into two places:
1) The studios get their cut.
This can happen in different ways...
If it's a first run (comes out on release date) the studios gets a higher percentage of the box office sales. Some movies can bring as high as a 90/10 split (90% going to the studios), while other movies, with anticipated lower interest will get a 60/40 split or lower.
If it's a second run (later date than the release) the studios take a lower percentage of the sales. The money reflected in box office sales is the gross total of sales (all money collected, not just what's given to the studios).
2) The theatre gets their cut.
With this cut they still need to pay usage/rental fee for the film (which is now a hard drive that is used to upload the movie to the digital projectors server) and the shipping fee to send the digital film back to the studio or onto the next theatre. With the theatres percentage they also cover the cost for theatre upgrades, utilities, staff and other costs to run the theatre. Theatres