What a year this has been at the movies. While it’s not quite over yet, Americans have spent enough money at the box office this year to confirm that this will be the biggest year that the US has seen. It almost wasn’t though. In fact, it’s literally because of Star Wars that we reached the new plateau.

With two movies from this year already in the top 10 all time for the American box office, you would have thought that having a record breaking year was all but guaranteed. However, Jurassic World and Avengers: Age of Ultron were not enough to do it by themselves. According to Deadline, it wasn’t until The Force Awakens had its record-setting opening weekend that breaking the yearly record became possible. In 2013, the box office did a combined $10.9 billion but that record has been officially broken and estimates are that by close of business tomorrow we’ll have set a new record of $11.1 billion.

$11 billion dollars is a lot of tickets. This number is not adjusted for inflation and the ever increasing cost of tickets, so it doesn’t necessarily mean that this year has seen the most theater goers. But even with those increases in cost this record is not set every year, there’s certainly something about this year’s films that helped to get there. In addition to the big three this year also saw strong performances from Furious 7, Inside Out and Minions. Even movies that did not perform as well as their predecessors like the final Hunger Games film and the latest James Bond movie still made it into 2015’s top 10.

After a summer that included Jurassic World and Ultron it looked like all records would be shattered, but in between then and now was a fairly lackluster fall season. Movies like Steve Jobs and The Walk were critical darlings, but box office flops. Then there were the outright travesties like Jem and the Holograms which Universal ended up pulling from theaters just to stop the bleeding. It was one of Universal’s only missteps of the year; they set their own record having the best year of any studio ever back at the end of the summer. Every dollar they’ve made since then has just been gravy.

With the changing landscape of Hollywood and ever increasing reliance on franchises, it will be interesting to see how the box office responds in the future. A new Star Wars movie was a novelty this year, but fairly soon it will be as commonplace as a new entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Whether this means the box office will only go up from here, or fans will become complacent, remains to be seen.

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