STAR WARS: THE RISE OF SKYWALKER dominated the year end box office last year as we headed into 2020 and while its performance won't have anyone at Disney shedding tears, its profit earnings show diminishing returns as the new trilogy came to a close.
Via "Deadline", the hard numbers show that THE RISE OF SKYWALKER lagged behind THE FORCE AWAKENS & THE LAST JEDI but its profit earnings between that first film of the trilogy and SKYWALKER were significantly lower. Per the report, which looked at a range of factors including marketing costs, production budgets and home video sales, STAR WARS: THE RISE OF SKYWALKER earned around $300 million in net profits. This takes into account that the J.J. Abrams film had a reported production budget of $275 million, which makes it the most expensive of the new trilogy, & total costs of $627 million. The film earned $1.07 billion at the global box office, including $515.2 million domestically, and $558.9 million internationally. Merchandising profits were not included in the report because that information is heavily guarded by Disney.
For comparison's sake, that's a steep decline from 2015's THE FORCE AWAKENS which pulled in a staggering $780.1 million in profits. That film was riding on nostalgia and a lot of hype for the franchise which went on to gross 2.06 billion at the box office, including a record $936.6 million domestically. It's estimated that production cost Disney $259 million with $776.5 million in total costs.
Rian Johnson's polarizing THE LAST JEDI came with a comparatively low $578.3 million in total costs, $200 million of which went to the production. Because those numbers were much lower for the middle entry, THE LAST JEDI earned $417.5 million in profit against $1.33 billion at the global box office.
One could argue that THE LAST JEDI left behind a complicated legacy for the franchise as they headed into the third film. Critics loved THE LAST JEDI but fans weren't as pleased.The film still has a rotten audience score on Rotten Tomatoes of 43% (compared to its 93% fresh rating from critics) and it's still the topic of much contention since its 2017 release. Some fans would argue that THE RISE OF SKYWALKER was fighting an uphill battle to be as successful given the reaction of that film but perhaps the diminishing returns simply means that the nostalgia wore off by the time THE RISE OF SKYWALKER was released.
When looking at the other new additions outside the SKYWALKER trilogy, ROGUE ONE earned $319.6 million in profit, with SOLO being the only film to lose money. After everything was totaled, director Ron Howard's expensive standalone Han Solo prequel lost $77 million. Despite this, Disney has made a lot of bank on the franchise since the 4 billion acquisition but maybe this shows that STAR WARS should take a little bit of a break from theatrical releases so we can miss the franchise again.
Why do YOU think profits diminished over time?