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Box office at Regal South Beach. Photo: Jeff Greenberg/UIG via Getty Images.

Economic growth has sent Americans to the movies in droves this past year, and the trend is expected to continue: Projections show the U.S. box office will make a record-breaking $12 billion in 2018 alone.

Why it matters: Movie theater admissions have been relatively stable for the past three decades, and yet box office totals are expected to be up 10% from 2017. Patrick Corcoran, vice president of the National Association of Theatre Owners (NATO), told Axios that subscription services and the date of release have a lot to do with it.

Driving the rise: Movie-goers who want an elite theater experience, including subscription perks through AMC or MoviePass, and luxury service (which can include alcohol and reclining loungers) have helped boost ticket sales. There's also been an uptick in people looking to take advantage of discounted days and matinees.

The impact: Thanks to these audiences, studios have seen far greater attendance in the off-season months (fall and spring), whereas previously they had only see such high attendance for summer blockbusters.

By the numbers: The U.S. box office has made roughly $9.3 billion in 2018 so far, nearly a 9% increase from last year, per NATO.

  • "Venom" had an $80 million debut during the Oct. 5-7 weekend — the best opening ever for that month.
  • "Black Panther," which screened after the holiday season in February, became the third-best showing of all time at $700 million in the U.S.

What to watch: If the box office were to flop the rest of the year, U.S. movies would still rake in roughly $11.8 billion. Corcoran said.

  • The most-anticipated November movies "Dr. Seuss' The Grinch," "Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald," "The Nutcracker" and "Ralph Breaks the Internet."
  • December: "Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse," "Mary Poppins Returns," "Aquaman" and "Bumblebee."

Go deeper

Why migrants are fleeing their homes for the U.S.

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios Photo: Herika Martinez /Getty Images 

Natural disasters in Central America, economic devastation, gang wars, political oppression, and a new administration are all driving the sharp rise in U.S.-Mexico border crossings — a budding crisis for President Biden.

Why it matters: Migration flows are complex and quickly politicized. Biden's policies are likely sending signals that are encouraging the surge — but that's only a small reason it's happening.

Cities' pandemic struggle to balance homelessness and public safety

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Addressing homelessness has taken on new urgency in cities across the country over the past year, as officials grapple with a growing unhoused population and the need to preserve public safety during the coronavirus pandemic.

Why it matters: It’s led to tension when cities move in to clear encampments — often for health and safety reasons — causing some to rethink the role of law enforcement when interacting with people experiencing homelessness.

Biden to sign voting rights order to mark "Bloody Sunday" anniversary

President Biden will sign an executive order today, on the 56th anniversary of "Bloody Sunday," meant to promote voting rights, according to an administration official.

Why it matters: The executive order comes as Democrats face an uphill battle to pass a sweeping election bill meant, in part, to combat a growing number of proposals introduced by Republicans at the state level that would restrict voter access.