Star Wars has been a lasting force in the pop culture landscape for over 40 years. From A new hope to The MandalorianGeorge Lucas’ beloved creation has entertained generations and inspired one of the most expansive franchises in history. Unsurprisingly, it is also one of the most financially successful. That’s exactly why Disney paid $ 4.05 billion in 2012 to buy Lucasfilm.
Since its inception, the Star Wars franchise has raised more than $ 10 billion at the worldwide box office. From some of the greatest movies of all time to some truly unexpected disappointments, the iconic sci-fi series has really ruled the spectrum. But which ones made the most money? Which ones underperformed? We’re here to tear it down Star Wars film performance at the box office.
12Star Wars: The Clone Wars
The oft-forgotten relic of the franchise cinematic, 2008’s Star Wars: The Clone Wars was the first animated film in the history of the series. The first several episodes of the Cartoon Network series, which had an incredibly successful run, were repurposed as a full-length feature that made its way to theaters. Unfortunately, those first few episodes were tough. Put together as a movie, it failed to grab the attention of the fan base, just a few years away from Revenge of the Sith. The critically regretted Clone Wars film earned only $ 68.9 million worldwide during its run. However, it served as the humble start to a show that is a pillar of the Star Wars universe. Things have just gotten off to a bumpy start.
11Solo: A Star Wars Story
This really is the only failure, relatively speaking, when it comes to live action Star Wars movies. Solo: A Star Wars Story was released in May 2018, just a handful of months after the release of The last Jedi, which turned out to be the most divisive entry in the history of the franchise. That, coupled with a troubled production, in which Ron Howard took over as director more than halfway through the shoot, turned out to be a recipe for disaster. Han Solo’s solo outing, featuring Alden Ehrenreich as the character first brought to life by Harrison Ford, made just $ 393.1 million worldwide. That would be a success for certain blockbusters. But this is Star Wars we talk about. Not only that, but extensive reshoots pushed the budget to a reported $ 275 million. It doesn’t matter how you cut it, that’s rough.
10Return of the Jedi
This is where things get interesting. Time gives perspective and it is important to remember; this is all relative. Return of the Jedi served as the closing of the original Star Wars trilogy. Many probably thought this would be the end of the franchise. Richard Marquand directed Episode VI, which earned $ 475.1 million worldwide. At the time, international markets were not nearly as big as they are today. The breakdown was $ 309.2 million domestic and $ 165.9 international. Not to mention inflation. Plus, the movie was made on a budget of only $ 32.5 million. That means it made more than 14 times what it took to produce. So, even though it’s relatively low on the list, make no mistake, Return of the Jedi was and still is a hugely successful film.
9The Empire Strikes Back
Up to the present day The Empire Strikes Back is still widely regarded as the top of the Star Wars franchise, in addition to being one of the best sequels ever. It also had the impossible burden of following the original 1977 sci-fi classic, which was the greatest movie ever at the time. No pressure. Episode V, directed by Irvin Kershner, exceeded expectations and became a true cinematic classic that proved Star Wars was more than a one-off hit. It also made huge bucks by 1980’s standards, withdrawing $ 549 million worldwide. That would be a damn nice total, even at modern tall sizes common to most blockbusters. And it doesn’t hurt that those revenues were made on a budget of less than $ 25 million.
8Attack of the Clones
Attack of the Clones was so many things. A sequel that should improve both the critical disappointment of The Phantom Menace, the first entry in George Lucas’s prequel trilogy. The middle entry in the saga of Anakin Skywalker’s transformation into Darth Vader. The first major Hollywood production to be completely digital, unlike film. A Star Wars movie with a lot less Jar Jar Binks and a lot more Yoda with a lightsaber. It was a lot. The extent to which it has succeeded as a cinematic story can be debated for days. In the end it was an average financial success compared to the rest of the franchise. Episode II grossed $ 656.6 million worldwide. Considering its $ 115 million production budget, it certainly made a lot of money, but not as much as its predecessor. But the fact that one submission is considered by many to be a big low for the series, managed to make so much money shows why Star Warsis so valuable in the media landscape to this day.
7A new hope
This is it. This is where it all started. George Lucas delivered one of the all-time movie classics in 1977 with Star Wars, later subtitled with Episode IV and A new hope. Fox famously had little to no faith in the film. It’s easy now to take for granted, but at the time, this didn’t seem like a blockbuster waiting on paper at the time. But Lucas delivered the goods in a way that no one could have predicted. It became, without exaggeration, the greatest film the world had ever seen. To date, the film has earned $ 773.3 million worldwide. That would be great even today. But when the relatively small budget of $ 11 million is factored in, you could still argue that this is the greatest cinematic win in history. Not to mention the untold millions it made from the sale of goods. Much of that went straight to Lucas since he locked up the merchandising rights in what must also be one of the great corporate movements in Hollywood history.
6Revenge of the Sith
By the time Revenge of the Sith hit theaters in 2005, it looked like a bunch of things were coming together for the prequel trilogy. Anakin Skywalker’s story was drawing to a close. George Lucas had refined things a bit. Less Jar Jar, more of what people want to see. Lightsabers. Space battles. Meaningful drama. And at the time, many fans thought this was the last Star Wars movie they would ever see. The final product is the closest thing to the prequels that made for a truly great movie. And it paid off. People wanted to see how this turned out. With a wave of generally positive reviews, at least when compared to the previous two movies, Episode III made an extraordinarily good $ 848.9 million at the box office, including $ 468.7 domestically. Even considering the $ 115 million production budget, this was a home run. It turned out to not to be the last entry in the Skywalker saga, thanks in large part to Disney.
5The Phantom Menace
There was a time when the world thought Return of the Jedi it was for Star Wars. Yes, hardcore fans can turn to novels like the Heir to the Empire trilogy, video games and comics. But there were no films for the general public. No TV shows. Then George Lucas decided it was time to show us Episodes I through III. Show us the journey Anakin Skywalker took to become Darth Vader. We can adore the successes and failures of The Phantom Menace but there’s no denying that 1999 felt like the greatest pop culture moment in history. People flooded theaters to see the trailer in the era before such things were readily available on YouTube. It simply cannot be overstated how important this was. And regardless of the reception, it performed like gangbusters at the till. Episode I has made $ 1.02 billion since its debut, thanks in part to a reissue in 3D. While it is becoming somewhat common for movies, or at least before 2020, to exceed the $ 1 billion milestone, The Phantom Menace making the kind of money it did when it did was pretty much unheard of.
4Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
When Disney bought Lucasfilm for more than $ 4 billion in 2012, it was believed the studio would take advantage of the franchise in addition to creating a new trilogy. But in 2016 Rogue One was certainly a risk. Aside from the few Ewok movies not considered canon, there was never an attempt at spin-off. This would tell the story of how Death Star’s plans fell into the hands of the Rebel Alliance, focusing largely on new characters. Darth Vader’s presence certainly helped director Gareth Edwards, but this was a test for it Star Wars that it had not experienced. It was a painstaking process with reshoots, help from Tony Gilroy, and a lot of speculation prior to release. Ultimately, Rogue One was a huge success, grossing $ 1.05 billion worldwide, including a stellar $ 522.9 domestically. This proved that the franchise had gasoline in the tank outside of the Skywalker saga, which means Disney can keep milking this cash cow for years to come.
3The Rise of Skywalker
2019’s The Rise of Skywalker didn’t have an easy path to walk down. Not only was this the conclusion of Disney’s sequel trilogy, but it also needed a sequel The last Jedi, which eventually turned into a shockingly divisive film. J.J. Abrams, which had been reintroduced earlier Star Wars to the masses again with The Force Awakens, returned to finish what he had started, trying to please everyone and end the saga in a satisfying way. How successful the film was will be discussed from now until the end of time. But it was another financial success for Lucasfilm’s Disney era, bringing in $ 1.07 billion worldwide. Admittedly, there was a decent drop between Episode VIII and Episode IX at almost $ 260 million. Be that as it may, any time a movie makes $ 1 billion or more, it’s hard to call that a failure.
2The last Jedi
Director Rian Johnson was given the task of directing J.J. Abrams after the release of The Force Awakens, which was hugely successful and began the sequel trilogy on a grand scale. Johnson’s The last Jedi, released in 2017, remains the most divisive entry in the history of Star Wars. Disney and Lucasfilm seemed blinded by the sharp divide between fans and critics. A loud, mostly vocal minority of it The last Jedi haters online really poisoned the pit and made the situation ugly in the months that followed. Be that as it may, moviegoers flocked to Episode VIII, which promised to bring Luke Skywalker back to the forefront after his temporary appearance at the end of The Force Awakens. The film made $ 1.33 billion at the box office worldwide, including an astonishing $ 620.1 million domestically. However divided it may be, The last Jedi ranks as the 14th highest-grossing film in history.
1The Force Awakens
It’s hard to imagine, especially with the uncertainty facing cinemas, that we could ever see a cinematic moment as big as The Force Awakens ever again. While The Phantom Menace marked a huge return for that Star Wars, this was really on a different level. Disney had bought Lucasfilm and planned to continue the Skywalker saga. Don’t look back, but look ahead. The original trio of Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill all returned. Han Solo, Leia Organa and Luke Skywalker (sort of) together again. It was huge.
Once the words “Chewie, we’re home” were said, the game was over. In 2015, when director J.J. Abrams introduced us to Rey, Finn, Poe and Kylo Ren, the whole world, it seemed, showed up to enjoy Episode VII on the big screen. Earned a record $ 247.9 million on opening weekend, The Force Awakens went on to earn an incredible $ 936.6 million from the domestic box office alone, a record that still stands and may never be broken. It ended with $ 2.06 billion worldwide, becoming only the third film ever to cross the $ 2 billion milestone at the time. It is still the fourth highest-grossing film of all time and, by a wide margin, the biggest Star Wars movie of all time, in terms of pure revenue.
Subjects: Star Wars, Box Office