The money behind Star Wars: From A New Hope to global mega-franchise

When George Lucas first penned The Adventures of Luke Starkiller, creating a world in which Darth Vadar didn’t wear a helmet, R2D2 had actual dialogue, and it wasn’t just Jedi who carried lightsabers, little did he know that the Star Wars franchise would go on to become one of the best-loved sagas ever created, making a whopping $30.5bn (£23.7bn) over its 40-year history.

The franchise has become such a behemoth that not even Jar Jar Binks could destroy it, hard as he may have tried. After four decades there is no sign that the world is becoming sick of Star Wars, despite the growing raft of films, cartoons, comics and merchandise bearing the brand.

As of yesterday, the trailer for the upcoming Episode VIII film, The Last Jedi, had 39 million views on YouTube, with more people tuning in for a sneak peek of the galaxy far, far away than for Marvel’s Thor: Raganok and DC’s Justice League, two similarly anticipated films this winter.

As Disney launches its Force Friday II merchandising blitz today, releasing its new range of Last Jedi clobber, The Telegraph takes a look at the Star Wars films’ box offices figures, how much it generates from merchandise sales, and why Disney was right to buy it.

Which Star Wars film made the most money?

Going purely on gross earnings alone, the most recent installment of the core saga, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, raked in the most money.

However, taking into account ticket price inflation over the past 40 years, it actually works out that the original Star Wars: A New Hope was top – aided in part by multiple re-releases.

Episode II: Attack of the Clones, on the other end of the scale, fared the worst of the core films with audiences, while the animated feature film Star Wars: The Clone Wars was the least popular overall.

What was the budget of Star Wars: Episode VII  A Force Awakens, and how did it compare to the other films?

According to IMDB estimates, the first three Star Wars films, A New HopeThe Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi had production budgets of $11m, $18m and $35m respectively.

There was a huge jump in production budget sizes for the three prequel films, with The Phantom Menace costing $115m, Attack of the Clones a further $115m and Revenge of the Sith $113m.

The Force Awakens had a budget of around $250m, and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, the standalone feature film released in 2016, had a similar production budget, estimated at $200m.


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