The franchise’s first movie, “Episode IV: A New Hope” grew to become a worldwide pop culture phenomenon. It was followed by the sequels, “The Empire Strikes Back” in 1980, and “Return of the Jedi” in 1983, with all three constituting the original Star Wars trilogy. A sequel trilogy was started in 2015 with the release of “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.” The movie holds the title of being the most expensive Star Wars movie to make, with production costs exceeding 200 million U.S. dollars. Thankfully this enormous investment paid off. "The Force Awakens" generated over two billion U.S. dollars in box office revenue worldwide, and is considered the most successful movie of all time in North America with over 936 million U.S. dollars in box office revenue. The film holds third place in a ranking of biggest opening weekends at the North American box office, after “Marvel’s “The Avengers: Endgame” and “Avengers: Infinity War.”
In a 2019 survey among American adults, the majority of the respondents stated that their favorite Star Wars movie was “Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back.” Unsurprisingly, some of the most popular Star Wars characters include the core group of Princess Leia, Han Solo, Luke Skywalker, and Chewbacca. Other favorites are Yoda, R2-D2, Obi Wan Kenobi, and Darth Vader. A 2019 study found that 32 percent of men considered themselves to be avid Star Wars fans, compared to just 18 percent of women. The series has also spawned an extensive media franchise that includes comic books, television series, video games, as well as related theme park attractions.