The term box office refers to both the part of a theater which sells tickets and the receipts made from ticket sales. Before modern computerized ticketing, box office ticketing for live theaters was a physical operation. The box office was entrusted with a number of printed tickets corresponding to the number of seats per performance.
After the show they would have to show the management the unsold tickets which would be compared to the ticket stubs collected from patrons, and they would naturally be responsible for producing the cash receipts to match the number of sold tickets.
“The box office” therefore came to mean the money from the sold tickets as well as the part of the theatre that sold them. The usage continues to this day, where entertainment news reports “the opening box office” or “the weekend box office” of a particular movie, meaning its gross receipts.
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