Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is going to make a lot of money. It will almost certainly become the seventh Disney movie this year to cross $1 billion, joining Captain Marvel, Avengers: Endgame, Aladdin, The Lion King, Toy Story 4, and (presumably) Frozen 2. But that’s worldwide. Here in the United States, well, The Rise of Skywalker is still going to do extremely well, and may end up topping The Last Jedi‘s total gross, but it will likely become only the third Star Wars movie to not accomplish an impressive box office feat.
Star Wars (later changed to A New Hope) was the highest grossing movie the year (1977) it came out, easily topping runner-up Close Encounters of the Third Kind. The Empire Strikes Back was also the top-grosser of 1980, as was Return of the Jedi (1983) and The Phantom Menace (1999). The first Star Wars movie to not finish number one was Attack of the Clones in 2002; it lost, so to speak, to Spider-Man and The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers. A new streak began in 2005, though, with Revenge of the Sith and continued in 2015 (The Force Awakens), 2016 (Rogue One), and 2017 (The Last Jedi). But that unprecedented level of year-end success came to an end with 2018’s Solo, which finished a disappointing 12th, and odds are high that The Rise of Skywalker won’t be able to top Avengers: Endgame, the current (and likely final) 2019 champion.
There’s no shame in losing to the highest-grossing movie ever, but The Rise of Skywalker will have the ignominious distinction of joining Attack of the Clones and Solo, generally (and unfairly) considered the two worst Star Wars movies, as the only (live-action) films in the franchise to not be the highest movie at the domestic box office the year they came out. Disney will — somehow! — have to settle for only making $1 billion.
Here are the top two films every year that Star Wars finished number one.
1. A New Hope
2. Close Encounters of the Third Kind
1. The Empire Strikes Back
2. Nine to Five
1. Return of the Jedi
2. Terms of Endearment
1. The Phantom Menace
2. The Sixth Sense
1. Revenge of the Sith
2. The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
1. The Force Awakens
2. Jurassic World
1. Rogue One
2. Finding Dory
1. The Last Jedi
2. Beauty and the Beast
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker opens on December 20, 2019.