Our list below shows how much money every Star Wars movie has made. All together, Star Wars movies have pulled in $8 billion at the worldwide box office. Including rentals, the figure jumps to over $11 billion. Adjusted for inflation, all 11 Star Wars movies have made $21 billion dollars.
In inflation-adjusted dollars, the original Star Wars is still king, with a star killing $3 billion in worldwide box office earnings. The Force Awakens is a big second though, with $528 million earned worldwide in its opening weekend. The movie has made $2.066 billion as of 5/4/16.
The other four members of the billion dollar Star Wars money club are Empire Strikes Back with $1.56 billion, Phantom Menace with $1.4 billion, Return of the Jedi with $1.4 billion and Revenge of the Sith with an even billion.
In This Article: (click to skip down)
- Every Star Wars movie’s money adjusted for inflation.
- Star Wars movie money without inflation adjustment.
- Star Wars: The Force Awakens $2.066 billion worldwide so far.
For the total Star Wars movie money breakdown adjusted for inflation, see the table below. We’ve included worldwide and domestic gross figures. We’ve also rolled in movie budgets. For non inflation-adjusted figures, see the table at the article’s end.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens
As of 5/4/16, Star Wars: The Force Awakens has already shattered records:
- Force Awakens worldwide gross: $2.066 billion so far.
- Star Wars Force Awakens domestic total: $936 million (Box office record)
- Force Awakens first 12 days: $1.09 billion (Box office record.)
- Force Awakens opening weekend: $528 million. (Box office record.)
- Force Awakens domestic opening weekend: $363 million. (Box office record.)
- Force Awakens Thursday night open: $57 million. (Box office record.)
1. Star Wars: $3,047,314,171
The original Star Wars, released in 1977, tops the Star Wars movie money list with $3 billion dollars at the worldwide box office. That puts it behind only 1939’s Gone With the Wind as the top grossing film of all time. Without adjusting for inflation, the movie drops to #3 with a still impressive $775 million. Not bad for a movie with an $11 million dollar budget. Maybe even more mind blowing is that the film took in slightly more in rental money than it did in theaters. Re-released in 1997, the movie earned another $858 million at the worldwide box office.
The movie was the first film to make over $300 million. In exchange for full merchandising rights, George Lucas agreed to earn a lower salary. His decision was seen as foolish by many in the industry at the time, since movie toys had not traditionally been big sellers. According to industry estimates, merchandise eclipsed the film’s box office money, raking in over $14 billion dollars to date.
2. Star Wars: The Force Awakens: $2,066,046,882
If you’ve sensed a great disturbance in the force, it’s because we haven’t seen a Star Wars box office like this since 1977. The movie opened on 12/17/15 in limited release. As of 5/4/16 it’s pulled in $2.066 billion worldwide and $936 million in the U.S. However, there’s no longer a chance the movie could blow away every box office record ever. In inflation adjusted dollars, Star Wars 1977 is still the #1 Star Wars movie. The #1 movie ever is still Gone with the Wind 1939. Avatar is still tops for non-adjusted dollars.
The Force Awakens is still a HUGE Star Wars money maker. It’s just not the biggest movie money maker ever. It’s at #2 on the list of inflation-adjusted Star Wars films. It’s #1 without the inflation adjustment. Will it beat Avatar? No. The film just didn’t bring people back for 7 or 8 theater visits. That’s what was necessary to hit $2.8 billion and steal the throne.
The money made by this new installment in the George Lucas created saga easily crushed the previous opening weekend record, a $209 million domestic total set by Jurassic World.
The chart below shows The Force Awakens worldwide gross so far vs Avatar’s $2.78 billion. The graph shows a comparison of the two movies’ earnings. Right now, it’s looking like the latest Star Wars film might never steal the throne.
3. The Empire Strikes Back: $1,555,903,941
The second film on our list of top Star Wars movie money makers is 1980’s The Empire Strikes Back. The film took in over $1.5 billion in inflation-adjusted dollars and more than half a billion non-adjusted. Like its predecessor, it also earned more in rental dollars than in theaters. The movie ranks as the #12 film of all time in terms of box office take. It was re-released in 1997 and earned another half a billion dollars.
With an $18 million dollar budget and more than $10 million in overruns, Empire was one of the most expensive motion pictures ever made. The film was so expensive the bank threatened to call George Lucas’ loan. It went on to earn back its budget three months after its release.
How Much Money Every Star Wars Movie Has Made (Adjusted for Inflation)
The table below shows how much money every Star Wars movie has ever made. The list has been adjusted for inflation. For real dollar amounts, scroll to the article’s bottom.
We’ve included the money made by the re-releases of the original three films as separate entities. Combining those figures would make episodes IV, V and VI the undisputed money champions of the series.
Star Wars Movie
|Star Wars: The Force Awakens||2||12/17/2015||$2,066,046,882||$936,236,882||$0||$2,066,046,882||$200,000,000|
|The Empire Strikes Back||3||5/21/1980||$1,555,903,941||$839,472,941||$1,668,108,000||$3,224,011,941||$52,020,000|
|Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace||4||5/19/1999||$1,468,673,890||$678,598,890||$576,433,000||$2,045,106,890||$164,450,000|
|Return of the Jedi||5||5/25/1983||$1,135,503,765||$739,241,765||$458,038,720||$1,593,542,485||$77,675,000|
|Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith||6||5/19/2005||$1,035,480,818||$463,930,105||$393,425,600||$1,428,906,418||$137,860,000|
|Star Wars (Special Edition)||7||1/31/1997||$857,876,104||$682,277,052||$409,366,231||$1,267,242,335||$14,800,000|
|Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones||8||5/16/2002||$857,205,792||$410,093,295||$345,859,800||$1,203,065,592||$151,800,000|
|Return of the Jedi (Special Edition)||9||3/14/1997||$522,583,147||$457,773,143||$320,441,200||$843,024,347||$3,700,000|
|The Empire Strikes Back (Special Edition)||10||2/21/1997||$514,580,951||$429,903,098||$300,932,168||$815,513,119||$3,700,000|
|Attack of the Clones: The IMAX Experience||11||11/1/2002||$410,093,295||$410,093,295||$0||$410,093,295||$1,980,000|
|Star Wars: The Clone Wars||12||8/15/2008||$68,282,847||$35,161,557||$24,613,090||$92,895,937||$8,500,000|
|Total Star Wars Movie Money||$13,539,545,603||$7,894,504,194||$7,564,932,250||$21,104,477,853||$860,650,000|
4. Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace: $1,468,673,890
Phantom Menace is the third biggest Star Wars money maker with almost $1.5 billion. Adjusted for inflation, the movie made almost $700 million domestically and $576 million in rentals on a budget of $165 million. Released in 1999 after a long hiatus in new Star Wars movies, Phantom Menace most likely profited from over a decade of pent up anticipation.
The movie was one of the first big budget films to use computer generated graphics in place of physical sets. Since the tech was relatively new, real sets had to be built as high as the tallest actor. Because of Liam Neeson’s height, the studio spent an extra $150,000 in set construction costs.
To discourage piracy, the movie was sent to theaters with the fake title, The Doll House.
5. Return of the Jedi: $1,135,503,765
The fourth biggest moneymaker of all the Star Wars films, 1983’s Return of the Jedi brought in $1.1 billion at the world wide box office and cost $32 million to make. The film brought in $739 million domestically and $458 million in rental dollars. Re-released in 1997, the film took in another $523 million.
The movie was shot under the made up name “Blue Harvest.” One reason was to discourage spying. The other was to get better rates from suppliers. Goods and services came at a premium for any Star Wars venture, since suppliers figured Lucasfilm had bottomless pockets.
The puppet for Jabba the Hut used in the movie cost half a million dollars to build.
6. Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith: $1,035,480,818
The final entry in the Star Wars movie billion dollar club, 2005’s Revenge of the Sith brought in $1 billion at the worldwide box office. It earned $464 million domestically and $393 million in rentals. The movie had a budget of $113 million.
The film’s original cut ran almost four hours. In its opening sequence, a flying piece of debris smacks into a star destroyer. The debris is actually a kitchen sink. It was put into the shot when someone at ILM complained, “We’re tossing everything into this scene but the kitchen sink.” The extra effort may have helped. The movie is the most popular of the three prequels.
7. Star Wars (Special Edition): $857,876,104
Taken as a standalone movie, the 1997 re-release of Star Wars does pretty well in terms of money. The remastered version took in $858 million worldwide. That’s not bad considering an inflation adjusted budget of just $14.8 million.
The re-release has since been lampooned for multiple changes, including the change to the famous cantina sequence to make it look like Han Solo killed Greedo in self defense. Other changes include multiple additional CGI characters and the addition of a previously deleted scene with Jabba and Han.
8. Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones: $857,205,792
It’s something of a slap in the face that 2002’s Attack of the Clones earned less adjusted money than the re-release of the original Star Wars five years before. The film took in $857 million and cost $115 million to make. The film was undoubtedly a huge financial success. Its relative failure when held up to the other movies in the franchise speaks to its weakness and the weakness of Phantom Menace, which left a bad taste in many fans’ mouths.
Clones was the most expensive of all the Star Wars films. Hayden Christensen reportedly made lightsaber sounds with his mouth the first time he handled one of the famous props. Lucas is said to have joked that they had a big enough budget to afford professional sound effects for the fighting scenes.
9. Return of the Jedi (Special Edition): $522,583,147
The 1997 re-release of Return of the Jedi is #9 on our list of Star Wars movie money makers. The film brought in over half a billion worldwide. It won another $300 million in rental revenue on an adjusted budget of just $3.7 million. The re-releases of the three original films served two purposes in the creation of the prequels. First, they raised the money necessary to bankroll the new pictures. Second, they created many of the new special effects techniques the prequels would use.
One notable change includes a CGI version of alien singer Sy Snootles in place of the original puppet. Another is that the Death Star explodes in a praxis ring, an effect made fun of in numerous satire videos and images. One more often ridiculed change is that the ghost of Darth Vader at the end is played by Hayden Christensen instead of the original Sebastian Shaw version.
Also see: Marvel Movies are Worth More than Belize
10. The Empire Strikes Back (Special Edition): $514,580,951
It’s not a bad thing when the weakest of the top ten movies in a franchise makes over half a billion dollars. The 9th biggest Star Wars money maker, Empire Strikes Back (Special Edition), cost just $3.7 in inflation adjusted dollars and earned another $300 million in rental money.
Changes from the original include an improved Wampa monster in the first Hoth sequence, new shots of Cloud City and new spaceship modeling. All three of the re-released films’ DVDs were heavily criticized for poor remastering.
Star Wars Movie Money in Non-Adjusted Dollars
The table below shows how much money each Star Wars movie made without adjusting for inflation. Seen this way, The Force Awakens is the top grossing Star Wars film of all time, followed by Phantom Menace, Revenge of the Sith and finally Star Wars. We chose to base the bulk of our article on adjusted dollars, since those reflect the best true picture of box office attendance and popularity.
Star Wars Movie
|Star Wars: The Force Awakens||1||12/17/2015||$2,066,046,882||$936,236,882||$0||$2,066,046,882||$200,000,000|
|Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace||2||5/19/1999||$1,027,044,678||$474,544,678||$403,100,000||$1,430,144,678||$115,000,000|
|Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith||3||5/19/2005||$848,754,769||$380,270,578||$322,480,000||$1,171,234,769||$113,000,000|
|Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones||5||5/16/2002||$649,398,327||$310,676,739||$262,015,000||$911,413,327||$115,000,000|
|Star Wars (Special Edition)||6||1/31/1997||$579,646,016||$460,998,008||$276,598,805||$856,244,821||$10,000,000|
|The Empire Strikes Back||7||5/21/1980||$538,375,066||$290,475,066||$577,200,000||$1,115,575,066||$18,000,000|
|Return of the Jedi||8||5/25/1983||$475,106,178||$309,306,178||$191,648,000||$666,754,178||$32,500,000|
|Return of the Jedi (Special Edition)||9||3/14/1997||$353,096,721||$309,306,178||$216,514,325||$569,611,046||$2,500,000|
|The Empire Strikes Back (Special Edition)||10||2/21/1997||$347,689,832||$290,475,066||$203,332,546||$551,022,378||$2,500,000|
|Attack of the Clones: The IMAX Experience||11||11/1/2002||$310,676,739||$310,676,739||$0||$310,676,739||$1,500,000|
|Star Wars: The Clone Wars||12||8/15/2008||$68,282,847||$35,161,557||$24,613,090||$92,895,937||$8,500,000|
|Total Star Wars Movie Money||$8,039,516,063||$4,569,125,677||$3,257,401,766||$11,296,917,829||$629,500,000|
Star Wars Movies for the Future
Disney has big plans for Star Wars movie money makers in the future. So far the most talked about is the heist movie Rogue One and the Han Solo solo film. Check out the full list of future titles below.
- Rogue One: A Star Wars Story: Dec. 16, 2016
- Star Wars: Episode VIII: Dec. 15, 2017
- Untitled Han Solo Star Wars Movie: May 25, 2018
- Star Wars: Episode IX: 2019
- Untitled Boba Fett Star Wars Movie: 2020
If each of those movies does even half as well as The Force Awakens, the Star Wars total box office revenue will jump by $5 billion in the next four years.