How would number of tickets sold not be the best way to measure the popularity of movies during their theatrical runs?
Because The Motion Picture, for example, seems to be wildly unpopular with people even though it has been the most successful Trek film at the box office.
Also, when TMP opened in Sydney, Australia, in December 1979, it was only available in one
cinema in the Central Business District. By the time the 1980 Easter school holidays had come along, a few new prints had arrived Down Under and the film had begun to appear in large suburban cinemas for short runs. By the August school holidays, it was appearing in the smaller civic centre one-day-only school holiday screenings, and in cinemas in the country towns of New South Wales. It was a very different world.