(Photo by 20th Century Fox Film Corp./courtesy Everett Collection)
In honor of the conclusion of the Skywalker Saga, we’ve done a Tomatometer deep-dive into the 17 movies, animated shows, holiday specials, and that one live-action TV series that make up the Star Wars universe. The result? Twelve facts that could make the Kessel run in 12 parsecs while bulls-eyeing womp rats on Tatooine. These sand-hating facts prove that Death Stars bring critical praise, while prequels are often Rotten. Dive into these facts like Boba Fett into the Great Pit of Carkoon and let us know if you agree or disagree with the Tomatometer’s findings.
Here are the Star Wars movies included in our dataset:
Note: Ewoks: The Battle for Endor (1985) doesn’t have a Tomatometer score. However, Wilford Brimley has an A+ mustache.
(Photo by ©Lucasfilm Ltd.)
The Empire Strikes Back has the best Tomatometer score of any Star Wars movie, and we love how it introduced the world to Yoda, Boba Fett, giant space worms, one-armed wampas, AT-AT walkers, surprise fathers, and most importantly, space crackers. The Irvin Kirshner-directed film is the rare blockbuster sequel that matches or surpasses its predecessor, and it’s insanely quotable, with lines such as “I am your father” and “I know” being burnt (or frozen in carbonite) into the pop culture lexicon. Here’s how the theatrically-released movies rank according to the Tomatometer.
(Photo by Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation)
Without George Lucas there wouldn’t be Star Wars, so we’re not including this Tomatometer statistic to take a dig at the man whose four Star Wars films have a 73.25% average. His two best films are A New Hope (93%) and The Revenge of the Sith (80%), but The Phantom Menace (54%) and Attack of the Clones (66%) are the two lowest-rated live-action movies of the whole franchise. The movies directed by J.J. Abrams, Rian Johnson, Irvin Kershner, Richard Marquand, Gareth Edwards, and Ron Howard have the higher 85.5% average.
George Lucas’s prequel series got off to a rough start with the 54% Tomatometer-rated Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace. It is the only live-action Star Wars movie to have a Rotten score (Darth Maul rules, though). However, its sequels Attack of the Clones (66%) and The Revenge of the Sith (80%) brought the series back to Fresh and pushed the trilogy to an overall average of 66.6%. If you’re looking for a great moment in the prequel trilogy, J.J. Abrams recently shared his favorite moment, and it’s a doozy.
(Photo by ©Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures/Lucasfilm Ltd./Courtesy Everett Collection)
A New Hope, Return of the Jedi, The Force Awakens, and Rogue One all feature star-sized weapons of mass destruction that would require many independent contractors to construct. While things didn’t end well for the Death Stars or Starkiller Base (a.k.a. the really big Death Star), the four films that feature them have an 87.5% Tomatometer average and an average box office of $838 million domestically. On the other hand, Death Star-less films have a 76% Tomatometer average and “only” average $448 million domestically.
Is it even better for the film if the Death Star makes a planet disappear? Yes. A New Hope and The Force Awakens feature total planetary destruction and averaged more money ($1.1 billion) and have higher critical scores (93%) than Return of the Jedi and Rogue One — movies that didn’t allow their Death Stars to obliterate any planets ($588 million / 82.5% Tomatometer).
Star Wars: Resistance (92%), Star Wars: Rebels (100%), and Star Wars: The Clone Wars (94%) have done a fine job expanding the Star Wars universe and bringing memorable characters such as Ahsoka Tano, Saw Gerrera, and The Bendu to life. A big reason for their success is the presence of creator, producer, writer, showrunner, and director Dave Filoni, also now instrumental in the success of The Mandalorian. After a misstep with Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Filoni has proven himself to be a brilliant shepherd of the animated world. We also loved his appearance in Jon Favreau’s The Chef Show, which you need to watch now.
Between Luke Skywalker, Darth Vader, Count Dooku, General Grievous, Mace Windu, and that unlucky Mos Eisley cantina patron in A New Hope, many characters have lost limbs in the Star Wars world. The only movies that don’t feature limb loss are The Force Awakens and The Phantom Menace – we didn’t count Darth Maul being cut in half – which means the live-action movies featuring limb loss have a higher Tomatometer average (82%) than the movies that don’t (73%). This statistic isn’t important, we just wanted to mention it because so many arms and legs go flying.
(Photo by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures / Lucasfilm)
Kasdan took the Star Wars world to new heights with his excellent screenplay for The Empire Strikes Back (he didn’t write the classic Han Solo line “I know,” and it bothers him), and he helped J.J. Abrams reintroduce the franchise with his work on The Force Awakens. He also wrote the screenplays for Return of the Jedi and Solo, the latter of which we think might come to be seen as a little underrated in the years to come. Kasdan’s 84% average is better than the 74% average for the four films written by George Lucas (not hating on Lucas; just the facts).
The only reason we’re bringing this up is because J.J. Abrams has directed Fresh films in each franchise. He helmed the 94% Tomatometer-rated Star Trek in 2009 and followed it up with the 84%-rated Star Trek Into Darkness in 2013. Then, in 2015 he unleashed The Force Awakens on the world. All three films were giant hits, and we’re hoping The Rise of Skywalker follows in their footsteps. After looking at all the theatrically released movies and television shows, Star Wars has the edge between the big space franchises, because the Star Trek series has six Rotten entries that dragged the Tomatometer average down. The Star Wars franchise has a higher average, but Abrams’ 2009 Star Trek movie (94%) has a higher Tomatometer score than The Force Awakens (93%).
(Photo by 20th Century Fox/Everett Collection)
This may sound obvious, but the four Star Wars movies with Tomatometer scores above 90% average a stellar $844 million at the domestic box office. A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back, The Force Awakens, and The Last Jedi were money-making machines that were also critically beloved. The seven movies with Tomatometer scores below 90% have a $468 million average, which is still great – it just isn’t $844 million.
*The domestic box office totals have been adjusted for inflation.
The three highest-grossing films in the Star Wars franchise are A New Hope ($1.2 billion), The Phantom Menace ($816 million), and The Force Awakens ($977 million). Which is understandable because they represented something new and mysterious. Do you remember the buzz around The Phantom Menace? If not, go back a few years and you’ll recall the insane amount of hype that surrounded The Force Awakens. People love new Star Wars films and the proof is in the box office.
(Photo by Industrial Light & Magic/Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation/Courtesy Everett Collection)
If history repeats itself, The Rise of Skywalker will gross more than The Last Jedi and less than The Force Awakens. While we don’t have too large of a data pool, we do know that Return of the Jedi ($630 million) and The Revenge of the Sith ($536 million) pulled in more money than The Empire Strikes Back ($591 million) and Attack of the Clones ($483 million). Is it because people show up to see how the trilogy ends? Was it because of the adorable and deadly Ewoks? Or, do people just really love lightsaber duels on lava planets?
Tell us about your favorite Star Wars moments in the comments.