A New Hope (1977) is officially the most popular Star Wars film, with new research giving the first instalment a popularity index score of 91/100.
The Empire Strikes Back (1980), Return of the Jedi (1983), The Force Awakens (2015), Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016), and Revenge of the Sith (2005) round out the top six most beloved films.
The study ranked each film based on worldwide box office totals (considering inflation) and ratings on Rotten Tomatoes, IMDb, Letterboxd, and Meta Critic.
New data has named the top six most popular films in the Star Wars franchise.
A recent research ranked each instalment (from 1977 to 2019) by analysing worldwide box office totals (accounting for inflation) and online ratings on Rotten Tomatoes, IMDb, Letterboxd, and Meta Critic to calculate an overall popularity index score out of 100 for each film.
A New Hope (1977), which introduces cinemagoers to Luke Skywalker as he begins his hero’s journey to learn “The Force” and rescue Princess Leia, has been crowned the most popular Star Wars film. Not only does this instalment have the highest worldwide box office in the franchise – $1,668,979,715 (£1,323,741,414) when accounting for inflation – but the movie also has the highest Metacritic score, 90/100, and its rating is never lower than the second highest score across all the review sites that were measured. Therefore, A New Hope (1977) achieves a final popularity index score of 91/100, making it the most popular Star Wars film of all time.
The Empire Strikes Back (1980) receives a silver medal as the second most popular instalment. The film introduces cinemagoers to iconic characters, including the beloved Jedi master Yoda, as Luke learns to master his skills and battle the notorious Darth Vader. With this exciting plot in mind, it’s no surprise that The Empire Strikes Back (1980) has the highest ratings on Rotten Tomatoes, with a 97/100 Audience Score and 94/100 on the Tomatometer. That plus the third highest box office takings of the 12 films that were measured ($920,818,947) give the movie the second highest popularity index score of 84.74/100.
In third place, Return of the Jedi (1983) has something to excite everyone, including Luke Skywalker’s epic battles with Jabba the Hut and Darth Vader. The final instalment of the original Star Wars trilogy ranks in third place on IMDb, with a respectable score of 8.3/10 and a similar 4/5 on Letterboxd, giving the film a popularity index score of 77/100.
The Force Awakens (2015) is the fourth most popular film in the franchise. Exploring the epic journey of Rey, an intergalactic scavenger-turned-Jedi, this instalment made the second highest amount in its worldwide box office, totalling an inflation adjusted $1,013,038,487 (£866,436,622). The Force Awakens (2015) also has the second highest Tomatometer rating, 93/100, resulting in a popularity index score of 76/100.
In fifth place is Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016). Taking place a week before A New Hope (1977), the film follows a group of resistance fighters as they embark on a quest to steal the plans to the Death Star. Overall, Rogue One (2016) receives a final popularity index score of 71/100, with the fourth highest Tomatometer rating on Rotten Tomatoes, 84/100.
The sixth most popular film in the Star Wars franchise, Revenge of the Sith (2005), is the only prequel to make it into the most popular list. In the movie, Anakin is lured by evil forces and, embracing the Dark Side, battles the Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi. With a Meta Critic User Score of 8.9 and 7.6 on IMDb, Revenge of the Sith (2005) has a popularity index score of 68/100.
Adam Parker commented: “Star Wars is a beloved franchise with devoted fans worldwide. This study has ranked the top six most popular films, considering worldwide box office and cross-referencing multiple online ratings, including Rotten Tomatoes and IMDb.
“The original trilogy dominates the top three most popular films, with A New Hope (1977) coming out on top, suggesting audiences still look back on the classics with nostalgia and appreciation for films recognised as cinematic masterpieces.
“Star Wars is an ongoing franchise with multiple films reported to be released in 2026 and 2027. However, Star Wars television series are currently enjoying the limelight, as Disney’s Ashoka (2023) boasts a Rotten Tomato score of 87/100 after releasing only three episodes.”
Felix is the founder of Society of Speed, an automotive journal covering the unique lifestyle of supercar owners. Alongside automotive journalism, Felix recently graduated from university with a finance degree and enjoys helping students and other young founders grow their projects.