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Significant Digits For Tuesday, Jan. 2, 2018

You’re reading Significant Digits, a daily digest of the numbers tucked inside the news.

2.5 percent

The 2017 box office will have netted somewhere in the ballpark of $11.1 billion, about 2.5 percent below the amount for a record-setting 2016. Several promising titles based on brand names or existing intellectual property flopped last year — think “The Mummy” and “The Dark Tower” — while others fell short of what could have been. The worldwide box office is up, and could hit $40 billion. [Variety]

20 House seats

Democrats are likely to be competitive in the 2018 midterm elections this November. All but 20 House seats held by Republicans have at least one Democratic candidate filed to run in the district. Contrast that to the 80 Democrats who don’t have a Republican opponent yet. [The New York Times]


On the last possible day, President Trump’s transportation department scrapped a proposal approved by the previous administration to have the federal government underwrite half the cost of an Amtrak tunnel connecting New Jersey to New York’s Penn Station. This is yet another setback for a critical infrastructure project that’s been delayed and defunded before. [Crain’s New York]

50 percent

Despite some of the mightiest headwinds on the planet, the paper business actually saw consumption grow 50 percent between 1980 and 2011. That’s in many ways because no industry really ever went paperless. They just ended up using paper in different ways. [The Guardian]


Number of prominent actresses, agents, writers, directors, producers and executives who signed on to a new initiative to fight sexual harassment in both Hollywood and blue-collar workplaces. The effort — Time’s Up — will involve a $13 million legal defense fund to help working women protect themselves from retribution if they report sexual misconduct in the workplace. Time’s Up will also aim to improve gender parity at studios and talent agencies. [The New York Times, Time’s Up]


“Body brokering” is the seedy industry that sells human bodies donated to science for considerable windfalls. A Reuters investigation into one firm — BRC — found profiles of 2,281 donors who saw their remains sawed off and sold to buyers. [Reuters]

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If you see a significant digit in the wild, send it to @WaltHickey.

Walt Hickey was FiveThirtyEight’s chief culture writer.