Saga Number of tickets sold for each Star Wars movie.

Discussion in 'Star Wars Saga In-Depth' started by Binary_Sunset, Feb 11, 2012.

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  1. Binary_Sunset Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Oct 28, 2000
    star 5
    Star Wars: 178,119,600 (100%)

    Empire Strikes Back: 98,180,600 (55%)

    Return of the Jedi: 94,059,400 (53%)

    The Phantom Menace: 84,738,800 (48%)

    Attack of the Clones: 53,468,500 (30%)

    Revenge of the Sith: 59,324,600 (33%)

    (source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_highest-grossing_films_in_Canada_and_the_United_States )

    By each film title is A) the number of tickets it sold, and B) this number expressed as a percentage assuming that the 1977 Star Wars film is 100%.

    Discuss.
  2. PiettsHat Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jan 1, 2011
    star 4
    I'm surprised that the drop from Star Wars to Empire Strikes Back is so precipitous. ESB is generally considered nowadays to be the best of the bunch, so it is a bit surprising to see that stark of a decline. Then again, it is a sequel and has a significantly darker tone, so that likely affected the box office. As for the prequels, I imagine it's difficult to compare directly with the original trilogy due to the advent of home video (especially DVD in the 21st century). I know there are a lot of people who are like me and, during the 2000s, generally just rented movies from Blockbuster or other video stores when they become available. It's much cheaper (not to mention more comfortable) to watch a movie at home than in a theater. That, I suppose, made a significant difference.
  3. fistofan1 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Dec 8, 2009
    star 4
    Wow, I automatically assumed all the Star Wars films were more or less equal in terms of ticket sales. The decline in sales between Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back surprises me, too. I suppose it would make sense if re-releases were taken into consideration. Is there any way of knowing if this is the case?
  4. anakinfansince1983 Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Mar 4, 2011
    star 7
    A few factors to take into account:

    1. ANH stayed in the theater from May until December. No film does that now. The entire film release process is now centered around a big opening night, a prescribed time frame in the theater, and a set DVD/Blu-Ray release. Not so in 1977. There was no such thing as home video, in fact, the OT was not released on VHS until at least the late 80s. The ticket sales from ANH have somewhat to do with it being in the theater for over six months. Plus the people who liked it and went to see it again "before it leaves the theater", at which point they assumed they would never have another chance to watch it.

    2. The drop in ticket sales for ESB probably has to do with people who liked ANH well enough, but not enough to see any sequels.

    3. By the time the prequels were released, the home video market was well underway, and because of that, ticket sales were going to be lower. People who were not necessarily Star Wars fans were not going to the theater for a movie they could rent a few months later.
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  5. Binary_Sunset Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Oct 28, 2000
    star 5
    It's interesting that the six films are in three groups:

    1. The 1977 Star Wars film is on a lonely pinnacle all by itself.

    2. ESB, ROTJ, and TPM each had ticket sales about half that of SW.

    3. AOTC and ROTS each had ticket sales about one-third that of SW.
  6. anakinfansince1983 Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Mar 4, 2011
    star 7
    But again, ESB and ROTJ would have stayed in theaters longer than any of the PT films, simply because there was no home video at the time of ESB and while home video existed in 1983, it was far less prevalent than it is now. (The earliest listed video release I found for Star Wars was 1982.)

    I don't remember exactly how long TPM stayed in the theater, but I do remember being irritated because I thought Spiderman cut AOTC's theater run short. TPM may have done better than the other two prequels movies for a couple of reasons: one, its opening weekend probably skyrocketed based on its being the first Star Wars film released in 25 years, and two, again with the home video format--although most people had VCRs and some had DVD players by 1999, I remember there being a delay of at least several months to the home video release. Whereas when AOTC was released, we already had a DVD release date. (I remember being surprised by that.)

    You have not yet expounded on your own theory for the differentiation in ticket sales.
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  7. Binary_Sunset Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Oct 28, 2000
    star 5
    Here's my gut instinct, expressed in hypothetical expressions from "The Man in the Street" right after leaving the theater:

    SW: "That's one of the best movies I've ever seen! You gotta go see it! I'm going to go again next weekend. Let's go together!"

    ESB: "Kind of a downer. It didn't even have a real ending. Oh, well. Sequels are never as good as the first."

    ROTJ: "Some of my friends aren't seeing this movie because they weren't that impressed with the last one."

    TPM: "Everybody I know who likes the Star Wars Trilogy has seen this. I was disappointed. I'm not so sure about seeing the next one."

    AOTC: "A big chunk of my friends who saw TPM didn't even bother seeing this one."

    ROTS: "A big chunk of my friends who saw TPM didn't even bother seeing this one, though Tommy went ahead and came because he heard Darth Vader was in it."

  8. Jedi_Keiran_Halcyon Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Dec 17, 2000
    star 6
    I hope no one's trying the old "prove/disprove prequel quality through numbers" game again...

    Just another factor to throw out there:

    1980 US Population: 226,545,805
    1980 Canada Population: 24,517,000
    TOTAL 251,062,805

    2000 US Population: 281,421,906
    2000 Canada Population: 30,689,000
    TOTAL 312,110,906

    That's a difference of 61,048,101 people, give or take.

    For TESB in 1980, that's 2.56 people for every ticket sold.
    For TPM in 1999, that's 3.68 people per ticket (or slightly less, to account for the difference of a year's growth).

    Ignoring repeat viewers, that's a ticket apiece for
    39% of the population in 1980
    and a bit over
    27% of the population 1999.

  9. anakinfansince1983 Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Mar 4, 2011
    star 7
    I don't know what else the thread would be about, but I'll let Binary_Sunset answer that one.

    And I'm not sure how your statistic on repeat viewers can be proven--do we have statistics on how many people bought more than one ticket?

    I'd say your population vs. ticket ratio can easily be explained by the earlier films' longer run in the theaters, and people going to the theaters for repeat viewings because due to lack of home video release, they know they'll never see the film again after it leaves the theater. (Or at least that's what they thought. I remember the O-OT and the average person was not predicting a home video market within the next several years. IOW, the average person would not have had the mindset, "I won't go see it again, because 10 years from now it will be readily available in a video store.")
  10. Jedi_Keiran_Halcyon Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Dec 17, 2000
    star 6
    Sorry if that was confusing - I wasn't trying to make any claims about repeat or not repeat viewers. I was just saying that IF we pretend there were no repeat viewers for either movie, then that's the percentage of people who would have each bought a ticket.

    --

    I would guess that repeat viewing also accounts for a lot of the difference between TPM and AotC/RotS. A lot of people pre-ordered multiple tickets for that one.

    Either that, or a lot of people who showed up for the second coming of SW and were so turned off they didn't bother with the other two.
  11. Gallandro Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Jul 8, 1998
    star 4
    Well said and an excellent point.

    In addition you also have to take into account the way people consume media today (basically 1990 on) is vastly different than in the late 70s/early 80s. The sheer volume of competing media interests is overwhelming. In the late 70s broadcast television with its handful of local and national broadcasters was the norm. Most major markets had 5-7 stations to choose from and cable was still in its infancy with its small lineup of 5 or so stations. Today people literally have hundreds of alternate viewing options in addition to dozens of movie specific channels. The explosion of streaming movie content over the last three years has also taken a chunk out of this market as well.

    Back in the late 70s/early 80s, really the only option you had to see a movie was going to your local theater unless you were content to wait a couple of years until it showed in reruns on TV. VCRs were primarily a prosumer level product and did not start to become mainstream until 1984-85 and until that time most VHS tapes were not priced with the consumer in mind. If you wanted to own a movie you were going to pay the same price the video rental store was charged which was about $90. It wasn't until the releases of "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom" and "Star Trek II" that the market started distributing videos that were priced to buy. But even then that was the exception until 1989-90.

    Additionally with the explosion of high def television and emergence of various platforms to distribute movies in high def, the studios now have to contend with people being satisfied with waiting for a movie on home video since they can have an excellent moviegoing experience right from the comfort of their own living room.

    So trying to use actual ticket sales data is a little misleading due to the enormous leaps in technology which are changing the industry. Just look at the ticket sales data for "Gone With the Wind" compared to ANH. Some historians estimate over half the country saw GWTW during its initial run... and this was in the middle of the Great Depression. But then again GWTW did not have to compete with television for the public's attention.


    Yancy
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  12. Go-Mer-Tonic Jedi Youngling

    Member Since:
    Aug 22, 1999
    star 6
    Once again, we see there is no record the classic trilogy can possess, that the Phantom Menace cannot take away.
  13. Drewton Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jan 8, 2009
    star 4
    To put this into some perspective:

    Star Wars: 178,119,600
    Titanic: 128,345,900
    Jaws: 128,078,800
    Empire Strikes Back: 98,180,600
    Return of the Jedi: 94,059,400
    The Phantom Menace: 84,738,800
    The Lion King: 89,101,100
    Avatar: 75,000,000
    The Dark Knight: 74,282,100
    Shrek 2: 71,050,900
    Spider-Man: 69,484,700
    Independence Day: 69,268,900
    American Graffiti: 65,714,300
    The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King: 61,538,100
    Revenge of the Sith: 59,324,600
    The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers: 57,630,400
    Attack of the Clones: 53,468,500

    I find it pretty interesting that Empire, Jedi, and Menace all had better attendance than Avatar, while Spider-Man, Independence Day, and even American Graffiti had better attendance than Sith and Clones. Keep in mind that these numbers are only domestic.
  14. anakinfansince1983 Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Mar 4, 2011
    star 7
    Of course they did. Again, no home video market. Avatar didn't stay in the theaters for six months.

    Spider-Man was a comic being made into a movie for the first time. A better comparison to it would be Batman in 1989 or The Incredible Hulk in 2003.

    I don't know enough about Independence Day to comment.

    American Graffiti--again, no home video market.

    I should also add that Lucas mentioned in 2003-2004 or so that he didn't expect ROTS to do well, he was just hoping to break even on it. I think it did better than he expected. (And speaking for myself, I never bought a full price ticket for it and never will--won't be seeing it in 3D.)

    I'm curious as to what the point of such posts are. As I said earlier, I'm waiting for Binary_Sunset to come back and clarify, as he seems decent enough and I don't want to assume ill intent. But in subsequent posts, I'm starting to get a playground-ish vibe of "nyah nyah nyah nyah nyah, the movie I liked sold more tickets than the movie you liked."

    And haven't you yourself used Transformers: Dark of the Moon as an example of a movie that did well at the box office not necessarily being a good movie?

    A few of us have mentioned reasons that their might be a disparity in ticket sales, and there are a lot of reasons why it's impossible to make an apples to apples comparison in movies released several decades apart, even movies in the same saga.

    Good discussion here on this topic
  15. Drewton Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jan 8, 2009
    star 4
    Considering Avatar ($2 billion) made four times as much as Empire ($538,375,067), I don't consider that to be an "of course".

    :oops: I think you misunderstood my post. I'm not trying to start an argument. If anything, my point is show that older films like American Graffiti got more money with, like you said, no home video market.
  16. Binary_Sunset Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Oct 28, 2000
    star 5
    To talk about Star Wars? :confused:
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  17. anakinfansince1983 Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Mar 4, 2011
    star 7
    I'm all for it, but that would be the point of the entire board. I was referring to this thread in particular.
  18. Gallandro Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Jul 8, 1998
    star 4
    The list of tickets sold only reinforces what I said earlier, people's entertainment options have had a huge impact on attendance numbers at the theater. Only one movie since TPM has had larger attendance, Avatar, and 7 of the top 10 films were made before ANH. What's actually more interesting is that TESB and ROTJ had a similar percentage of attendance versus ANH as AOTC and ROTS did versus TPM.

    Yancy
  19. YodaDooDahDay Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jul 20, 2010
    star 3
    As has been said elsewhere, looking at these numbers is interesting, but fans should avoid apples to apples comparisons. The market, the competition, the population, the demographics the technology, etc. between 1977 and 2005 are wildly different. ALL the Star Wars films have been huge successes. Even AOTC and ROTS, which sold the fewest tickets, were exactly comparable with huge hits like LOTR: TTT and LORT: ROTK.
  20. Jedsithor Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Oct 1, 2005
    star 4
    Right, and if the ticket price for Empire had been the same as the ticket prices for Avatar in IMAX, RealD and 2D, Empire would have taken in well over $2 Billion, in todays money.

    It's that old inflation line. Whenever someone said that TItanic (and now Avatar) was the highest grossing film of all time, I'd proudly proclaim that if you took inflation into account that A New Hope was way out in front of them...then I'd mumble under my breath about Gone With The Wind being number 1, hoping they didn't hear me. [face_whistling]
  21. Jedi_Keiran_Halcyon Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Dec 17, 2000
    star 6
    Here's another approach, just for fun (numbers are still domestic, from BoxOfficeMojo):

    1977
    #1 - Star Wars - $307,263,857
    #2 - Close Encounters - $116,395,460
    1980
    #1 - The Empire Strikes Back - $209,398,025
    #2 - 9 to 5 - $103,290,500
    1983
    #1 - Return of the Jedi - $252,583,617
    #2 - Terms of Endearment - $108,423,489
    1999
    #1 - The Phantom Menace - $431,088,295
    #2 - The Sixth Sense - $293,506,292
    2002
    #1 - Spider-Man - $403,706,375
    #2 - Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers - $339,789,881
    #3 - Attack of the Clones - $302,191,252
    2005
    #1 - Revenge of the Sith - $380,270,577
    #2 - Lion, Witch, Wardrobe - $291,710,957

    Percentage of next-highest-grossing film that year:
    SW = 264%
    TESB = 203%
    RotJ = 233%
    TPM = 147%
    AotC = 75%
    RotS = 130%
  22. anakinfansince1983 Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Mar 4, 2011
    star 7
    And AOTC competed against two big new movies, both that summer, whereas the other movies competed against just one.

    I remember being really irritated in 2002 when the movie theaters cut AOTC's run short so they could promote Spider-Man. And I said earlier, Spider-Man was a comic being made into a movie for the first time, and would draw an audience who wanted to see just how that panned out, whereas AOTC was a sequel and had been promoted as a "Star Wars chick flick" and "Titanic in space"--by Lucasfilm itself.

    Apples to oranges.

    I don't think the other films listed would have drawn the same audience either: Terms of Endearment? 9 to 5? Close Encounters and the Sixth Sense may have, but the others, not so much.
  23. Jedi_Keiran_Halcyon Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Dec 17, 2000
    star 6
    What was the second big movie? LotR came out in winter.

    According to BoxOfficeMojo, AotC came out AFTER Spider-Man.

    And "Titanic in space" is a wild exaggeration. Forbidden love was just one of many angles in the advertising. There were still a boatload of lightsabers and lasers in every commercial I saw.

    Those are just the top two (except in 2002, where I had to go down to 3 or else AotC wouldn't show up[face_whistling]) of each year.

    I'll grant that TESB had 1980 pretty much to itself. RotJ, on the other hand, was up against Superman and James Bond in the weeks after it opened.
  24. anakinfansince1983 Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Mar 4, 2011
    star 7
    The theaters here did it differently then, because I distinctly remember Spider-Man coming out closer to the end of June, and LOTR-TT being after that. Regardless, AOTC had to compete against these two films, Spider-Man being the first of its kind, LOTR being popular with a different set and Jackson being a different kind of director.

    And FWIW, Spider-Man and LOTR-TT were both great films, I own both of them on DVD. But I'm still not buying the agenda of this thread, the agenda that is blatantly obvious and goes far beyond "talking about Star Wars," and coming from the same crowd that said in the prequels box office thread that box office figures don't matter because Transformers did well although it is a crap film.

    All the Star Wars films have done well in the box office. What's the point here?
  25. Jedi_Keiran_Halcyon Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Dec 17, 2000
    star 6
    LotR came out in DECEMBER. Unless you're from a different country or some strange remote town, I don't think the two were ever in theaters at the same time.

    I'd also point out that Superman and Bond came out two and three weeks after RotJ, before the multiplex era.
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