Counting movie profits can be tricky, especially with a series as spread-out as the six "Star Wars" movies. Inflation and ticket prices give the edge to later films, even if more people went to see earlier ones. That doesn't take video sales, television viewings, or international figures into account either. Based solely on domestic movie theater box office, there are two different ways to determine which "Star Wars" film made the most money: flat grosses and grosses adjusted for inflation.
A New Hope
The original "Star Wars" (later renamed "A New Hope") opened in 1977. It remains the highest grossing Star Wars film, both in terms of raw dollars ($460 million) and adjusted dollars ($1.2 billion).
The Empire Strikes Back
"The Empire Strikes Back," released in 1980, ranks second in terms of adjusted dollars with $700 million. In terms of unadjusted dollars, however, it's dead last at $290 million.
Return of the Jedi
The finale to the original trilogy ranks third in adjusted grosses at $675 million. If you don't adjust for inflation, it ranks fifth at $309 million.
The Phantom Menace
"The Phantom Menace" demonstrates how much of a role inflation can play in determining these figures. Unadjusted, it's second behind "A New Hope" at $430 million, but adjusted for inflation, it ranks fourth, failing to top any of the three films which preceded it ($609 million).
Attack of the Clones
Unadjusted, "Attack of the Clones" ranks fourth at $310 million. Adjusted for inflation, however, it's dead last at $384 million.
Revenge of the Sith
Episode III, released in 2005, grossed $380 million in unadjusted dollars, enough for third place. Adjust those figures for inflation, however, and it drops to fifth at $426 million.
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