Which month is best for Disney and Star Wars, financially, to release a new movie? We take a look at the box office numbers throughout the franchise.
Beginning in 1977 with Star Wars: A New Hope, fans could anticipate a May release date for all new films. However, after Disney acquired LucasFilm and began releasing its own Star Wars films, new movies were released in theaters in December, near Christmas, except for Solo: A Star Wars Story, which went back to the May release in 2018.
The Star Wars franchise is one of the highest grossing movie franchises of all time, so obviously whenever a new movie is released, it will attract thousands of fans and generate high profits. But is a May or December release date best for the franchise, financially speaking?
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All earnings listed are closely approximated gross domestic earnings and adjusted for ticket price inflation. All the data was acquired via Box Office Mojo.
When A New Hope was released in theaters on May 25, 1977, it earned $1,286,033,500 billion during its original box office run when adjusted for inflation t0 2019. The Empire Strikes Back, released on May 21, 1980, and grossed $710,548,800 million, while Return of the Jedi made $729,660,300 million.
Over two decades after the release of Episode IV, The Phantom Menace hit theaters on May 19, 1999 and made $764,280,500 million. Three years later, on May 16, 2002, the highly debated Attack of the Clones was released and earned a relatively disappointing $468,630,500 million during its run.
The final movie of the prequel trilogy, Revenge of the Sith, made $534,514,500 million in theaters after its release on May 19, 2005. After its release, the next movie to be released in May was Solo in 2018. It is considered to be a box office bomb for the franchise after earning just $205,860,700 million against an estimated $275 million budget.
All in all, Star Wars films released in May grossed an average of $671,361,257 million.
So far, the whole sequel trilogy and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story were released in December. The highly anticipated seventh installment of the Skywalker Saga, The Force Awakens, was released on December 18, 2015 and made $974,117,000 million. Its sequel, The Last Jedi, made $609,026,300 million and Rogue One grossed $544,579,000 million.
Films released in December on average grossed $709,240,766.
By the numbers, it seems that releasing films in December would be in the best interest of Disney. However, since there have been four more movies released in May than have been released in December, it’s difficult to determine exactly which month provides better returns.
For a franchise like Star Wars, the release month hardly seems to matter. The release of a new film will bring thousands of fans to the movie theater all over the world. Its name value alone has the ability to gross hundreds of millions of dollars.
Which month do you prefer films to be released?