The Highest-Grossing Star Wars Movies, Ranked (Adjusted For Inflation)

The Highest-Grossing Star Wars Movies, Ranked (Adjusted For Inflation)

The Disney+ series Obi-Wan Kenobi unsurprisingly had a divisive response, but a fan edit that turns the series into a 2.5-hour movie makes it so much more exciting. It makes fans wonder how successful it could have been if it was a theatrically released film.

However, while it might have been hugely profitable and maybe even grossed close to a billion dollars, there’s no way it would have reached the numbers previous Star Wars movies have made. Adjusted for inflation, the rankings of the highest-grossing Star Wars film look a lot different. It both makes early disappointments look much more impressive and recent success stories look completely inferior. All original box office figures are taken from Box Office Mojo, and the official Bureau of Labor Statistics inflation calculator was used to adjust the figures.

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10 Star Wars: Episode II – Attack Of The Clones (2002) – $1.076 Billion

Anakin Skywalker In Attack Of The Clones

Despite being 20 years old, Attack of the Clones’ performance still looks bad by comparison. The movie barely broke $650 million when it was released in 2002, which was $400 million less than the previous movie (via Box Office Mojo). That big of a drop is almost inexcusable, especially coming from one of the biggest and most prestigious franchises of all time.

RELATED: 5 Ways Attack Of The Clones Is Not As Bad As People Say (& 5 Ways It Is)

Where Attack of the Clones’ predecessor had pod racing and Darth Maul and its successor was an epic conclusion to a six-movie series, the 2002 film didn’t have any unique selling point. If it was released today, it would at least make over a billion dollars, but that’s still by far the lowest of the main Skywalker Saga.

9 Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker (2019) – $1.244 Billion

Star Wars The Rise Of Skywalker Rey Daisy Ridley

There isn’t much of a difference between The Rise of Skywalker’s original box office intake and the gross profit adjusted for inflation, as it’s the newest movie in the franchise and only three years old. But regardless of which way fans look at it, it’s still an overall disappointment and a relatively uneventful release that Disney would rather forget.

It seems like the only thing the film has become good for since its release is memes, and the quote “Somehow, Palpatine Returned” will become classic for all the wrong reasons. The movie grossed almost half of what The Force Awakens made, and, adjusted for inflation, it made even less. And as Palpatine was a “break glass in case of emergency”-type character that returned to save the franchise after the polarizing response to The Last Jedi, it didn’t exactly work.

8 Rogue One (2016) – $1.303 Billion

Darth Vader igniting his lightsaber in the hallway if Rogue One A Star Wars Story

Disney was either doing something right or something drastically wrong when its Star Wars spin-off movie, Rogue One, ended up grossing more than one of the proper Skywalker saga movies. Unfortunately, it turned out that it was the latter, as the sequel trilogy ended up being too incoherent.

However, that isn’t to take away from the success of Rogue One, which introduces some great new characters and has been the closest thing to an actual star war. The final hour is one epic battle and visual spectacle, and there’s an argument to be made that it’s the best Disney-made Star Wars film. But it’d be interesting to see how much less the movie would have made at the box office if it didn’t feature that horrifying and mesmerizing hallway scene.

7 Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge Of The Sith (2005) – $1.317 Billion

Anakin meets General Grievous in Revenge of the Sith

Revenge of the Sith still didn’t quite reach the box office success as The Phantom Menace, as the diminishing returns of the prequel trilogy clearly resulted in some drop-off in interest from general audiences. However, it’s still much more successful than Attack of the Clones, and while the 2002 movie worried fans that the final movie in the trilogy wouldn’t stick the landing, the result was a huge payoff.

RELATED: The 5 Best (& 5 Worst) Scenes In Revenge Of The Sith

The movie still has the typical problems that run through the entire prequel trilogy, such as the bad green screen effects and stiff acting, but it’s an epic conclusion to a narrative that fans had followed for almost 30 years. And even though it made hundreds of millions less than a couple of Disney’s Star Wars movies, adjust for inflation, it’s technically way more successful.

6 Star Wars: Return Of The Jedi (1983) – $1.413 Billion

Chewbacca holding a crossbow in Star Wars 6

With the prequel trilogy being an exception, which is largely due to being a big payoff to a decades-long promise, there seems to be a small trend with Star Wars movies. The final films in the trilogies are the least successful. Just as Rise of the Skywalker was the least successful, Return of the Jedi was the lowest grossing of the original trilogy, too. The reasons why both movies didn’t do as well as their predecessors aren’t all that different.

Even though Rise of Skywalker is a much more obvious example, it’s incredibly tough to tie up a trilogy. And no matter how perfect of an ending the final movie has, there’ll always be a pocket of fans who wanted it to end differently. The 1983 threequel has become just as much of a classic as the first two movies, but, at the time, Ewoks and the Emperor weren’t enough to do the numbers of A New Hope or The Empire Strikes Back. But compared to other non-Star Wars movies, Return of the Jedi’s gross is a phenomenal success.

5 Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017) – $1.616 Billion

Star Wars The Last Jedi Luke Skywalker

Star Wars: The Last Jedi was technically the beginning of the end for the current phase of the franchise. The hype surrounding Star Wars’ return had quickly died down, and fans’ excitement for what Disney could deliver had cooled off after they saw The Last Jedi for the first time. Where The Force Awakens was so successful due to fans’ repeat viewings in movie theatres, those same fans weren’t in as much of a rush to see the 2017 movie.

While some think The Last Jedi is actually great, the movie misrepresented Luke Skywalker, ignored what The Force Awakens had set up, and the new team of heroes didn’t even spend any time together. Overall, the movie divided Star Wars fans, but that amazingly couldn’t stop the movie from still being a box office beast. Despite all of the criticisms, the film’s adjusted $1.6 billion gross is unbelievable.

4 Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace (1999) – $1.826 Billion

Padme aiming a blaster in Star Wars Episode I – The Phantom Menace

While grossing over a billion dollars is a regular occurrence in the current cinema landscape, it was few and far between in the 90s. In fact, only two 90s movies ever reached the figure, the first of which was the box office phenomenon Titanic in 1997, and the second was The Phantom Menace. Even though the film isn’t looked at all that positively today, the movie had glowing reviews from critics when it was released, which massively helped its success.

RELATED: 10 Great Endings In Bad Movies, According To Reddit

It seemed that everyone was so hyped for the first Star Wars movie in 16 years that the excitement clouded their judgment at the time. But even though the film is riddled with uninteresting conversations about taxes, it’s still full of exciting sequences like pod racing. And Darth Maul had already become iconic thanks to the movie’s incredible marketing campaign.

3 Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back (1980) – $1.935 Billion

Boba Fett in Empire Strikes Back

Coming off the heels of A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back was always going to be a huge success. And while the film is regarded as one of the greatest sequels of all time, it would still have been profitable if it was negatively received. However, looking back, it’s hard to believe that a sequel this dark made so much money.

While the first movie was a fun four-quadrant space adventure that literally ends with the heroes getting medals, The Empire Strikes Back is extremely dark in both theme and tone. On top of that, it’s an amazing feat that a 1980 movie managed to make an adjusted $2 billion when its title spoils the ending.

2 Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015) – $2.586 Billion

Kylo Ren from Star Wars.

It’s an incredible feat that The Force Awakens made more than Empire even when adjusted for inflation, and that’s largely because, just like with The Phantom Menace, fans had been starved of new Star Wars movies. But it’s also due to an equal measure of great marketing, fan service, and doing something new.

Director J.J. Abrams perfected the legacy sequel formula with the 2015 movie, as The Force Awakens introduces new characters that are just as interesting as the original crew, and it brings back fan-favorite characters, whether it’s Han or R2-D2. And, more than anything, it also goes to show just how fast inflation is rising, as the seven-year-old movie made just over $2 billion upon its release, and that’s now worth $500 million more.

1 Star Wars: A New Hope (1977) – $3.790 Billion

Darth Vader boards Princess Leia's Rebel Blockade Runner surrounded by Stormtroopers and fallen Rebel soldiers in Star Wars A New Hope

A New Hope made $775 million in theatres in 1977 (via Box Office Mojo), and while that would technically make it the seventh-highest-grossing Star Wars movie, it’s completely different when adjusted for inflation. That box office gross is worth an extra $3 billion when adjusted for inflation today, which is more than most franchises’ profits put together.

According to CNN, the average cost of a movie ticket in 1977 was $2.23. That means that the film would have sold over 347.5 million tickets worldwide, which is nigh-impossible to imagine. It’s hard to imagine any newly released film ever coming close to that number, and it’s why the 1977 movie holds a legacy that few other films do.

NEXT: 10 Things You Still Don’t Know About Star Wars: A New Hope

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About The Author

Stephen Barker
(1386 Articles Published)

Currently residing in Madrid, Stephen Barker has been a staff writer at Screen Rant since 2020. Since graduating from Manchester Metropolitan University with a bachelor’s degree in Film, Television, and Cultural Studies in 2014, he has written for numerous movie and music websites. Stephen has been obsessed with movies since he first watched Jurassic Park on VHS, and with a deep interest in screenwriting, he loves 70s character-driven movies. But he’s just as much of a defender of Batman & Robin, The Fast and the Furious, and Small Soldiers.

Visit Stephen’s personal blog, Quaranste, where he writes about guilty pleasure movies, his latest musical discoveries, and how he stays creative during global pandemics, or contact him directly: Quaranstine@gmail.com.

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