May The Money Be With You: The Astounding Profits of Star Wars Films

The Star Wars galaxy is expanding at a rate unimaginable by fans decades ago. Over the last 45 years, Disney's Star Wars franchise has become a pop culture phenomenon creating many beloved movies and TV shows.

Setting Stellar Records at The Box Office

Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, and Harrison Ford in
Image Credit: Lucasfilm.

To celebrate Star Wars Day, May the 4th, and the continually growing Star Wars franchise, FinanceBuzz examined box office performance and how much Star Wars content exists. This data found that Episode IV: A New Hope earned a 2,396% profit based on its inflation-adjusted budget and box office gross — the most of any Star Wars movie.

Only one Star Wars movie has failed to turn a profit at the box office: 2018's Solo: A Star Wars Story. 

Beating The Billion Dollar Mark

star wars the force awakens
Image Credit: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures.

The first movie, later subtitled A New Hope, is the highest-grossing film in the franchise when adjusted for inflation. Between A New Hope‘s initial 1977 release, a 1982 re-release, and the 1997 special edition release, the movie has brought in over $460 million at the box office. That equates to over $1.8 billion in 2023 dollars.

While Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back and Episode VI – Return of the Jedi got close to hitting the billion-dollar mark across multiple releases, only 2015's Episode VII – The Force Awakens achieved billion-dollar status at the box office. The film grossed over $900 million at the time of release (nearly $1.2 billion in today's dollars).

The Force Awakens marks the first movie released after Disney purchased the Lucasfilm company from George Lucas.

No Jedi Mind Tricks for Critics

Last jedi rey mirror cave 2
Credit: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures.

Even the lowest-rated Star Wars movies have earned scores of over 50% from critics on Rotten Tomatoes, an impressive feat for a franchise with so many entries.

The research found a relationship between how well-reviewed a Star Wars movie is and how much money it makes. The four films with Rotten Tomatoes scores over 90% have earned an inflation-adjusted $4.7 billion. Those films include Episode IV – A New Hope, Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back, Episode VII – The Force Awakens, and Episode VIII – The Last Jedi, accounting for 52% of the $9.1 billion the entire Star Wars franchise made at the box office.

These four movies averaged nearly $1.2 billion in sales at the box office. In comparison, the remaining seven movies with lower ratings from critics have averaged “just” $623 million in inflation-adjusted ticket sales.

Profit in The Galaxy

Star Wars Episode IV A New Hope 1977 Lucsfilm 2
Image Credit: Lucasfilm.

When looking at how profitable each Star Wars movie is, we need to factor in how much money it costs to make each film. Once again, A New Hope shines here. After factoring in the money spent to make the 1997 special edition and adjusting for inflation, A New Hope still has the lowest budget of any Star Wars film at $74 million. With an inflation-adjusted $1.8 billion earned at the box office, A New Hope made a profit of $1.7 billion for Lucasfilm. That's 2,396% of the movie's budget.

The only film that failed to hit the mark is also the only one that failed to turn a profit. 2018's Solo: A Star Wars Story had an inflation-adjusted budget of $330 million but made just $256 million when released, a loss of $73 million.

Nine Day Star Wars Marathon

Liam Neeson and Ray Park in Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace (1999)
Photo Credit: Lucasfilm Ltd.

How long would it take fans to watch every minute of TV and film content in the Star Wars franchise? A Disney+ subscriber can access over 12,000 minutes of Star Wars TV and movies. That means watching every single minute of Star Wars content would take over 208 hours, or nearly nine full days.

The movies are now only the tip of the proverbial iceberg. For every minute of Star Wars film content, there are more than six minutes of TV content.

Bringing Animation to The Star Wars Universe

star wars the clone wars returns
Image Credit: Disney/Lucasfilm.

The Clone Wars series ran for seven seasons and 133 episodes. That adds up to 3,000 minutes of content. That's more than twice as much as the 1,493 minutes that comprise the 11 theatrically released Star Wars movies.

The Clone Wars show shows a few different trends in the expansion of the Star Wars franchise. The show premiered in 2008, but episodes were released in the 2010s, and then the show was revived in the 2020s.

In fact, more than 10,300 minutes of content — 83% of all official Star Wars content ever produced — has been released since 2010. That is a significant part of the new Star Wars content release trend in the last 15 years. 

The Clone Wars is an animated production, forging new ground for the franchise as it expanded into new mediums. Now 70% of all Star Wars content is animated, including shows like The Bad Batch, Rebels, and Resistance.

The latest animated entries include Vol. 2 of Star Wars Visions, a series of 9 short films in a variety of animated styles, that drops on Disney+ today. All 9 episodes of Vol. 1 are available as well. Also landing on Diney+ and Disney Junior is Star Wars: Young Jedi Adventures, for the youngest of Star Wars fans.

Fans looking to celebrate May the 4th can brush up on their trivia facts or learn more about the history of Star Wars Celebrations.  

This article was produced and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks.