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Forums - Movies Discussion - A Star Wars analysis of performance and reception

This is something I've done for fun and thought to share with you folks so I get the feeling I'm doing something useful with my holidays.

So, as many of you know, Star Wars consists of nine episodes divided in three trilogies: the prequels, the sequels, and the prequels of the sequels, which are also known as the sequels of the prequels. The prequels are the prequels of the prequels of the sequels, while the sequels are the sequels of the prequels of the sequels, which, as I mentioned, can also be called the sequels of the prequels. The prequels of the sequels are neither prequels nor sequels in the sense they release before both the prequels and the sequels, and yet nowadays serve as both prequels and sequels to the sequels and the prequels, respectively. Or... you can just call them the "originals" if you're feeling exceptionally small-brained.

Are you with me yet? Alright, now to the goodies.


Average critical reception per movie, rounded, according to Metacritic, and estimate of tickets sold. The column to the left are media reviews, and to the right is audience reviews:

IV - ANH 90 88 ~ 300 million (had major re-release)
V - ESB 82 90 ~ 180 million
VI - ROJ 58 83 ~ 140 million
I - TPM 51 (originally around 60) 61 ~ 200 million
II - AOTC 54 61 ~ 110 million
III - ROTS 68 77 ~ 130 million
Solo 62 62 ~ 40 million
Rogue One 65 76 ~ 110 million
VII - TFA 81 68 ~ 220 million
VIII - TLJ 85 44 (review bombed) ~ 140 million
IX - ROS 54 50 ~ 100 - 120 million (projection)

CinemaScore reception with audiences: all prequels "A-", Rogue One, VII and VIII "A" and IX "B+"


Some things to note:

ESB was potentially around 60 with critics on release due to a lot of them perceiving certain innovations as controversial. Audiences loved it, though, and word of mouth led to week after week of higher box office numbers. APM had a somewhat higher critical reception before the 3D re-release, where a lot of reviewers decided to be significantly harsher, which brought it down to its current score. TLJ was review bombed by users just about anywhere, although its reception with audiences  before that wasn't exactly as good as TFA or Rogue One. Before a major re-release, the original Star Wars had sold perhaps 200 million tickets - but this is a very rough estimate.


Order of best to worst movie, according to:

Critics:  IV > VIII > V > VII > III > Rogue One > Solo > VI > II > IX > I

Audience: V > IV > VI > III > Rogue One > VII > Solo > I > II > IX > VIII


Average score of each trilogy, according to:


Prequels: 57.67        

Originals: 76.67

Sequels: 73.33


Prequels: 66.33

Originals: 87

Sequels: 54

Audiences like the George Lucas movies around 10 points more on average than critics, while they like the Disney movies around 20 points less on average.


Combined score, average:

Prequels: 62

Originals: 81.83

Sequels: 63.66

In the combined score, the prequels and the sequels are almost even in reception, while the originals are about 20 points higher.


Combined average reception score per movie:

IV: 89

V: 86

VI: 70.5

I: 56 (~ 60.5 originally?)

II: 57.5

III: 72.5

Solo: 62

Rogue One:70.5

VII: 74.5

VIII: 64.5 (~ 69.5 without review bombing?)

IX: 52


Order of movies per average combined score:

IV > V > VII > III > Rogue One > VI > VIII > Solo > II > I > IX


And finally...

The five Star War movies received above average:

 - III, Rogue One, IV, V and VII

The Star Wars movie right on the average:

- VI

The five Star War movies received below average:

- I, II, Solo, VIII and IX


Average number of tickets sold, per movie, per trilogy:

Prequel ~ 146.66 million

Original ~ 203.33 million (~ 173.33 million without the ANH rereleases)

Sequel ~ 156.66 million

Main takeaways of all of this? I don't know, but I think these movies get slammed the most whenever 1) the force doesn't work as people expect it to; 2) aliens are too obnoxious or cutesy; 3) physics are extremely flawed; 4) asspulls with little to no buildup or explanation, specially if it involves a man named Palpatine coming up with armies and weapons. On the other hand, the more serious and dramatic the movies are, with some good seasoning of heroic and comedic shenaningans, the better.

I believe ANH and specially ESB, drawing from classic Greek literature and golden age science fiction, set up tone and expectations in such a way that whenever writers try to make it more appealing to children (George Lucas) or teenagers (Disney), suspension of disbelief ends up suffering big time. It doesn't seem like the audience for Star Wars is growing at all, to be honest, and perhaps this is why. It has its niche and rules, and as long as ANH and ESB lie in public consciousness as the ur-example for what Star Wars should be, it won't budge from there.

Last edited by haxxiy - on 23 December 2019






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I'd use IMDB for audience score over any other website, it has a much larger number of ratings than websites like metacritic and rotten tomatoes. The newest film has 2500 ratings on meta and 107,000 on IMDB. TLJ has 8400 on meta and 498,000 on IMDB.

Good stuff. Could you maybe throw in a couple of line graphs?

Love and tolerate.

This was an interesting read. Very thorough.

I have been out of the loop for awhile now. I've seen the originals and the prequels at one point or another (although it's been many, many years now, and I cannot remember much), but since Disney took over, the only one I've seen is the Force Awakens.

To be honest, I've never been thrilled by a Star Wars movie. It's one of those things that I've wanted to be a part of, but I can't seem to get into. What do other people see in these movies that I don't? Is it the plot, the special effects, nostalgia? And what about from a film perspective? Do they have the best special effects in the industry? Are they pieced together so well that it almost blows your mind at the insane genius that must have went into it?

What actually is the big deal with Star Wars?

What's AOTT?

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I appreciate the hard work you put into this. Good read!

Twitter: @d21lewis

KLAMarine said:
What's AOTT?

What, don't you remember Obi-Wan mentioning he fought in the Tlonic Wars? :P

Me feex.






This is an interesting read. The sad thing is though, you can't really take away any real conclusion because the numbers area all over the place. Except that the original trilogy is superior.

S.Peelman said:
This is an interesting read. The sad thing is though, you can't really take away any real conclusion because the numbers area all over the place. Except that the original trilogy is superior.

The Pearson correlation coefficient between box office and average reception is positive and relatively significant (>0.6) with audience scores being best at predicting box office success than media reviews.

In theory, chances are fairly high that an ideal, super well made Star Wars movie (~ 90 meta average on user + critics) received as well as IV or V would do $2500 - $3000M or more in the box office nowadays.