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Ranking Star Wars Movies By How Much They Made At The Box Office

Disney purchased Lucasfilm in 2012 for the tidy sum of $4.05 billion (via CNBC), and it wasn't because they wanted luscious real estate in Marin County, California. They wanted "Star Wars," and you can't blame them. Disney's live-action movie output has been a train wreck for decades. If not for mega-franchises like Marvel and "Star Wars," the Mouse House would probably stick solely to Pixar sequels. According to The Numbers, the "Star Wars" franchise has earned $5 billion domestically and $10.3 billion worldwide, making it second only to Marvel, which has more than twice as many movies.

There have been 12 theatrical "Star Wars" movies (sorry folks, we're not including "The Star Wars Holiday Special" or "Caravan of Courage: An Ewok Adventure"), with five of them released under the Disney banner since 2012, per Radio Times. Some may argue that Disney has saturated the market; none would argue it hasn't been profitable. While most "Star Wars" movies have made a lot of money (except for one "Solo" entry), we're going to determine which ones come out on top. Where do the films you love — and the films you love to hate — land? Here are "Star Wars" movies ranked by how much money they made at the box office.

12. Star Wars: The Clone Wars

The lowest-grossing movie on this list by about a country mile (or a Kessel run) is also the only animated feature on this list. Now that "Star Wars" is owned by animation powerhouse Disney, maybe that will change. But unless you're a convention-attending, George-Lucas-hate-mail-writing diehard, you might have forgotten "Star Wars: The Clone Wars" was released theatrically, and you almost certainly didn't go see it. However, despite having the lowest gross profit of the franchise, "The Clone Wars" did very well. 

With a production budget of $8 million, The Numbers shows that "The Clone Wars" opened to $14 million and ended its short theatrical run with $35 million domestically and $68 million worldwide — a bit over eight times its production budget. Since Gizmodo says that a movie needs to make about twice its budget to make money, we imagine "The Clone Wars" netted about $52 million. Maybe Lucas used that to install a new pool? That profit is all the more impressive considering "The Clone Wars" has the series' lowest scores on Rotten Tomatoes and was basically a backdoor pilot to the Cartoon Network TV show

11. Solo: A Star Wars Story

There is a controversial backstory for "Solo: A Star Wars Story," the lowest-grossing live-action "Star Wars" film and the franchise's only outright bomb. According to Variety, original directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller were let go by Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy for basically turning a multi-million dollar tentpole into a "Star Wars"-themed improv night at The Comedy Store. They were replaced by the ever-reliable Ron Howard in an attempt to salvage the ship. There's no telling how much Lucasfilm spent on reshoots, though given "Rogue One" cost $200 million to make and "Solo" cost $275 million, $75 million is a solid guess, via The Numbers.

"Solo" had a steeper hill to climb no matter what, but an extra $75 million was chump change, given each Disney "Star Wars" movie had made at least a billion dollar by that point. Not this one, though. "Solo" opened to $84 million, a Disney "Star Wars" low. With a weak 2.5 multiplier, "Solo" managed a measly $213 million domestically and $393 million worldwide, just 1.4 times its production budget. We imagine it lost more than $150 million and would have bombed even if Disney didn't pay for reshoots. Clearly moviegoers weren't interested in seeing how Han met Chewie. Sorry, if you loved Solo's solo outing; don't shoot us — we're only the reporters (and aren't Greedo).

10. Star Wars: Return of the Jedi

Each of the original "Star Wars" movies is among the biggest ticket-sellers of all time, though they land on the lower end of our list given unadjusted box office figures. "Star Wars: Return of the Jedi" has the lowest Rotten Tomatoes rating of the original trilogy, though that's like calling Christian Laettner the worst player on the 1992 "Dream Team" Men's Olympic basketball team; they were all pretty good, via The Sporting News. "Worst" is relative when you're talking about objectively awesome movies and huge money earners. 

According to The Numbers, "Return of the Jedi" cost $32 million dollars in 1983, showing us that 1) George Lucas is incredibly thrifty and 2) Blockbuster movies cost way too much today, per Investopedia. "Return of the Jedi" earned $23 million in its opening weekend and multiplied that already massive number by 13 to bring in $309 million domestically and $475 million worldwide, 14.6 times its production budget.

9. Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back

As The Take examines, "Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back" is often considered the best in the series — a subjective opinion — and boasts the best Rotten Tomatoes score — an objective fact. Whether you share that opinion or you're wrong (we kid, we kid ... ), "Empire Strikes Back" put a lot of money back into George Lucas' bank account. If "A New Hope" was the movie everybody expected to fail (per Insider), "Empire Strikes Back" was the movie everybody knew would succeed. Its budget was $23 million, more than twice the $11 million spent on "A New Hope." But the official "Star Wars" website makes clear that what was more important to George Lucas than the money was having creative control. 

However, while Lucas was the boss, directorial duties went to his former film professor, a working director in his own right, Irvin Kershner, via IMDb. In his career, Kershner has directed financially successful films such as "The Return of a Man Called Horse" and "RoboCop II," but "Empire Strikes Back" is considered his crowning achievement in his The Hollywood Reporter obituary. From a $4 million opening weekend, "Empire" struck bank with $291 domestically and $549 million worldwide according to The Numbers. "Luke, I am your father?" More like "Moviegoers, who's your daddy?"

8. Star Wars: Attack of the Clones

"Star Wars: Attack of the Clones" was a big hit by every objective measure, but it had the misfortune of being run into by the 10-ton freight train that was "Spider-Man" in 2002. To be honest, if this were anything other than "Star Wars," we'd probably be writing its cinematic epitaph. As recorded by The Numbers, "Spider-Man" opened to $114 million on May 3, 2002, setting the opening weekend record and becoming the first movie to open above $100 million. During its historic run, "Spider-Man" scored number one in its second weekend with $71 million, while it slipped to number two in its third weekend with a still mighty $45 million. 

That weekend also saw the debut of "Star Wars: Attack of the Clones" with $80 million, just $9 million more than the second weekend of "Spider-Man," via The Numbers. It's hard to overstate how insane "Spider-Man" was that summer. It's also hard to deny that it didn't affect "Attack of the Clones," which already had to deal with being the follow-up to the unloved "The Phantom Menace" and earning mediocre Rotten Tomatoes reviews of its own. "Attack of the Clones" finished its run with $310 million domestically and $656 million worldwide. With all of the things going against it, the performance of "Attack of the Clones" might be the most impressive as it showed just how resilient the "Star Wars" brand was.

7. Star Wars: A New Hope

Let's start here — "Star Wars: A New Hope" is arguably the most important movie of all time. Note that we didn't say "the best," as that title could be said to belong to "Citizen Kane," "The Godfather," or "Weekend At Bernie's 2." But it's probably the most important. Vox describes how, along with "Jaws," "Star Wars" invented the summer movie season. It also established a movie as not just a movie, but a multi-platform brand and merchandising juggernaut. Let's just say nobody was making breakfast cereal for "Gone With The Wind." If it seems like every movie today is just a trailer for the next one, or a two-hour toy commercial, well, blame "Star Wars." 

However, its raw numbers only land it in the middle of our list — $460 domestically and $775 worldwide, per The Numbers. But let's break those numbers down. "A New Hope" cost $11 million in 1977, opened in select theaters to $1.5 million (that's how they did it those days), and had a 12.84 multiplier to earn 70.5 times its production budget. That's insane. That includes numerous re-releases, but it only goes to show how consistently popular this nearly 50-year old film — the second biggest ticket-seller of all time — remains. A lot of movies make money. "A New Hope" changed everything.

6. Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith

This was it, the moment fans had powered through the much-maligned "Star Wars" prequel trilogy for: the birth of Darth Vader. Were fans ever going to skip this movie? To quote Darth Vader — "Noooooooo!" You know a villain is popular when millions of people pay just to see just two minutes and 20 seconds of him. If "Attack of the Clones" did so-so for a "Star Wars" movie (while still earning more than $400 million in profits), then "Revenge of the Sith" would re-establish "Star Wars" as the dominant summer franchise, while boasting the best Rotten Tomatoes scores of the prequel trilogy. 

Costing just $115 million, George Lucas' trilogy-capper opened to $108 million and probably would have broken the opening weekend record set by "Spider-Man," except it opened on a Thursday, via The Numbers. "Revenge of the Sith" finished its run with $380 million domestically and $848 million worldwide, about 7.4 times its production budget, for a profit of around $618 million (almost the entire worldwide earnings for "Attack of the Clones"). According to Box Office Mojo, "Revenge of the Sith" finished the year just a bit behind "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire" worldwide while soundly beat the boy wizard domestically. 

5. Star Wars: The Phantom Menace

When "Star Wars: The Phantom Menace" opened in 1999, it had been 16 years since the last "Star Wars" movie, "Return of the Jedi," in 1983, per IMDb. This may seem shocking to Gen Z, who have grown up in our "Star Wars"-soaked culture. There has always been a ton of "Star Wars" tie-in merchandise, but when it came to movies, the "Star Wars" cinematic landscape was more desolate than Tatooine. So yeah, "The Phantom Menace" was kind of a big deal. Just ask an older Millennial who probably drank from an Anakin Skywalker Pepsi-machine or went as Darth Maul for Halloween. 

"Star Wars: The Phantom Menace" opened on a Wednesday, or else it certainly would have topped the opening weekend record set by "The Lost World: Jurassic Park" in 1997, via Box Office Mojo. Alas, it had to settle for just $64 million. Despite critical reviews from outlets such as Variety, which called the movie a "letdown," The Numbers notes that the first film of the prequel trilogy had a 7.3 weekend multiplier (a number any movie studio would kill for today) and finished its run with $474 million domestically and $1.027 billion worldwide. Now just imagine how much "The Phantom Menace" would have made if it was good!

4. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

While toys, video games, comic books, and expanded universe novels have always gleefully explored the galaxy far, far away, the movies have historically focused on the Skywalker family as much as E! has focused on the Kardashians. That all changed in 2016 with "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story" ... well, sort of. There's still a Darth Vader and Princess Leia cameo. Following the warm afterglow of "Star Wars: The Force Awakens," movie fans were ravenous for George Lucas' universe (even if there was no George Lucas) and showed up big time for this spin-off film. 

"Rogue One" opened to $155 million and finished its impressive run with $532 million domestically and $1.05 billion worldwide, per The Numbers. Judging by the success of "Rogue One," Disney felt the "Star Wars" brand was indomitable — that is, until one year later when "The Last Jedi" underperformed and "Solo" flat-out bombed, bringing the space saga crashing back down to Earth. Still, given the conclusion of the Skywalker saga in 2019 and the successes of Disney+ series like "The Mandalorian" and "The Book of Boba Fett," we can expect to see plenty of more spin-offs like "Rogue One," explains Business Insider.

3. Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

Following J.J Abrams making just about everybody happy (or at least as happy as "Star Wars" fans can be) with "Star Wars: The Force Awakens," the master of the mystery box was back for the series conclusion, "Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker." The film was met with a reception reminiscent of the "Lost" series finale and "Star Trek Into Darkness," leading us to wonder if maybe Abrams' properties have about as much trouble finishing strong as an Aaron Rodgers-led Green Bay Packers (per NBC Sports). 

For context, there was a lot going on in 2019 pop culture-wise. "Avengers Endgame" opened in May and broke all the records, "Game of Thrones" had its series finale and broke all the hearts (and the internet), and Disney+ debuted with "The Mandalorian," reminding fans what they loved about "Star Wars." In this pop culture stew, "The Rise of Skywalker" would be forgiven for being forgotten ... except it's "Star Wars"! Not only that, but it was the conclusion of the sequel trilogy and the Skywalker Saga as a whole. Its mediocrity didn't matter — moviegoers were over it and showed up mostly out of obligation, as Drew Taylor speaks to in this retroactive Collider review. The Numbers shows "The Rise of Skywalker" to have opened to $177 million and finished with a mediocre 2.9 multiplier to earn $515 million domestically and $1.07 billion worldwide. The film finished the year outside the top five, a first for the Skywalker Saga, via Box Office Mojo.

2. Star Wars: The Last Jedi

To say that "Star Wars: The Last Jedi" is divisive would be like saying Kanye West is opinionated. Just look at its performance on Rotten Tomatoes: Its critics' score is one of the series' best ... but its audience score is one of the worst. Many people really liked it, many people really hated it, while those who said "yeah, it's okay, we guess" were as silenced, per the BBC. However, given this is a "Star Wars" movie that followed the incredibly well-received "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" and "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story," "The Last Jedi" still made a lot of money. 

Its $220 million opening was a bit below "The Force Awakens," which isn't surprising given the latter film's $247 million opening was based on decades of anticipation, via The Numbers. What was surprising was the sudden drop-off. "The Last Jedi" only had a 2.8 multiplier, finishing its run with $620 million domestically and $1.3 billion worldwide, nearly $700 million less than "The Force Awakens" just two years earlier. Couple that with strong holiday-movie competition from "Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle," as seen on Box Office Mojo, and while "The Last Jedi" is on the high end for biggest earners, it's on the low end for tickets sold.

1. Star Wars: The Force Awakens

The year 2015 was a big year for "Star Wars" fans. We hadn't gotten a new movie in 10 years, and we hadn't seen the continuing adventures of Luke, Leia, Han, and the gang for 32 years. Meanwhile, the prequel trilogy made a lot of money but made even more message boards crash with fan outrage. If you think anticipation was pretty high, you'd be right. "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" was the first "Star Wars" movie to open during the holiday season. It didn't just break records; it crushed them. 

As The Numbers records, with $247 million, "The Force Awakens" out-earned the previous opening weekend record set by "Jurassic World" that summer by $39 million. It broke the previous December opening weekend record set by "The Hobbit" by $163 million (per Box Office Mojo). "The Force Awakens" opened like a summer blockbuster but played like a holiday release, earning 3.7 times its budget to close with a domestic record that stands to this day: $936 million. With a $375 million production budget (wowza, how big was Harrison Ford's trailer?), its $2 billion earnings worldwide is also the fourth-highest of all time. Or about a third of what Disney paid George Lucas for his company with just one movie. Not bad, Mickey. Not bad.