Rotten Tomatoes has ranked Star Wars as the 10th best movie franchise of all time, but it would’ve rated even higher without a few duds weighing it down.
Any time movie franchises are ranked against each other, there’s going to be controversy and disagreement as fans of their respective franchise will usually believe they deserved better. That’s no different with Rotten Tomatoes recently released top ten list of best movie franchises, where Star Wars barely slipped in at number ten.
It sounds outrageous on the surface, doesn’t it? Star Wars, with all the power of the franchise and what the universe has become, barely breaking the top ten? However, Rotten Tomatoes did clarify exactly why that was the case.
"“In the end, though, neither the average Tomatometer nor the average Audience Score ranked in the top 30 franchises overall, and it was only the consistently immense earning power of the Star Wars films — the best of any franchise — that pulled it up just high enough to make it into the top 10.”"
As mentioned in this reasoning, there were three key factors going into these rankings as far as the numbers were concerned. Average Tomatometer, signifying how a movie was reviewed by critics. Audience score, signifying how good the average viewer felt the movie was. Finally, there was the average domestic box office for each installment.
Now, that final category is one where Star Wars blew the competition out of the water. Star Wars, with an average domestic box office of $692,833,333.33, landed far ahead even number two, which was Jurassic Park with an average of $541,149,213.80. Jurassic Park didn’t even make the final list because of its average audience and Tomatometer scores.
The next two in box office, Indiana Jones ($515,870,633) and Toy Story ($462,000,000), ended up with the top two spots on the final list of top ten movie franchises. However, it’s the audience and Tomatometer scores that ultimately dragged Star Wars to the bottom of the list.
The top spot went to Toy Story, which dominated both the audience and Tomatometer scores. The biggest thing Toy Story has going for it, aside from being that freaking good, is that there are no duds. With only four movies, and all of them expertly crafted, Toy Story is about as perfect as a franchise can get.
Even Indiana Jones, which ranked at number two on the final list, had to deal with the audience dud that was Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. So, which movies dragged Star Wars to the bottom of the list? There were three obvious culprits.
The Phantom Menace, The Clone Wars, and The Rise of Skywalker all ultimately torpedoed the chances of Star Wars ranking higher on this list. The biggest offender of those three is The Clone Wars, as in the Star Wars: The Clone Wars animated movie from 2008, not to be confused with the critically acclaimed television series.
The Clone Wars wrecked the curve on the Tomatometer with an embarrassingly low 18%, and didn’t do much better with the audience score of only 39%. No movie did worse in either category, and only the controversial but critically acclaimed The Last Jedi came close in audience score.
The next biggest offender, without much surprise, was the often panned beginning of the Prequel Saga. The Phantom Menace didn’t help either average with its Tomatometer score of 53% and an audience score of 59%. Sure, the movie still has some good moments, but the overall quality was lacking.
The third offender actually scored worse than The Phantom Menace on the Tomatometer, as The Rise of Skywalker only managed 51% from critics. However, it was somewhat salvaged by fans handing it an 86% audience score.
If these three movies were removed from the equation, Star Wars would’ve shot up the rankings. Without them, the Star Wars franchise would’ve managed an average Tomatometer of 83.3% and an average audience score of 76.4%.
While that audience score wouldn’t have pushed it into the top ten for that category, thanks in large part to the disparity between critical and audience opinion of select Star Wars films, that boost in Tomatometer would’ve made a huge difference.
With that average, Star Wars would’ve rocketed from only 26th on overall Tomatometer to ninth, landing just behind the Marvel Cinematic Universe in that category. Keep in mind, all three categories factor into the final score.
Star Wars would’ve easily passed How To Train Your Dragon, which landed in a meager 47th in the box office category, and boasted a better Tomatometer score than the next four franchises (Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, Spider-Man, and Back to the Future). It could’ve passed the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which only has a slight edge in Tomatometer and a bit more in audience, but barely broke the top ten on average box office.
Third on the last was Middle-Earth, encompassing both the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit trilogies. Middle-Earth had a respectable ranking on audience score, but lands at 6th on box office and 13th on Tomatometer (far behind the adjusted Star Wars ranking).
Toy Story, with a dominant top ranking in audience and Tomatometer scores, and a respectable 4th in box office, would understandably still hold the top spot. Indiana Jones, with a Tomatometer of 86.25%, audience score of 81.25%, and third place box office ranking, is still plenty arguable at second place.
Finally, that would leave Star Wars in a much more understandable third place for the best movie franchise of all time. Unfortunately, The Clone Wars, The Phantom Menace, and Rise of Skywalker had to go and ruin things. Shame on them.