It’s a question that has occupied the Star Wars fandom ever since The Force Awakens was released, and even more so after The Last Jedi: how much do people, and here we include all people, i.e. not just the hardcore action figure buying demographic, like the new Disney Star Wars movies? Some believe almost everyone surely hates the movies. Others claim that only a vocal minority dislike them whereas most regular people like the movies.
Well, let’s try to settle this debate once and for all! Rasmussen Reports conducted a representative survey in the US among adults in March 2023 and asked them the hard question: do you like the Disney Star Wars movies better, about the same or less than the original movies made by George Lucas?
On top of that I will also try to once and for all settle the question about how many male vs female Star Wars fans there are. And I will also use another survey to shed some more light on which age groups in the US are the most avid Star Wars fans. Younger people? Older people? How many Gen Z kids like Star Wars vs people who watched the original movies almost 50 years ago?
The results may surprise you!
Click through to find out how popular the Disney Star Wars movies really are and how different age groups and genders view Star Wars!
Yes, this article is long. It has numerous charts. For people who hate reading I have provided a short summary at the end of the article! But I strongly encourage you to read the results in detail. They are quite illuminating!
Unfortunately the Rasmussen Reports survey is hidden behind a paywall. However, Bounding Into Comics posted the results in an article and I will therefore use Bounding Into Comics as the source for the Rasmussen Reports survey results.
So let’s dive right in, the big question: are the Disney Star Wars movies, better, worse or about as good as the original Lucas era movies? Rasmussen Reports provides results filtered by age groups, gender and political affiliation. So what does the survey conducted in March 2023 find?
Well, fans of The Last Jedi need to sit down now… because among all surveyed people a majority think the Disney Star Wars movies are worse than the original Lucas movies.
If we look at the detailed results for the three major age brackets we find, to the surprise of no one probably, that younger people see the Disney Star Wars movies in a much more favorable light, whereas the older demographic really dislikes the sequels. People aged 65+ cannot make up their minds really though, since a majority of them is not sure if the new movies are better or worse.
However, percentages only tell you so much. It would be much more interesting to look at the absolute numbers, i.e. how many people aged 18-39 are there in the US? Unfortunately official US census data does not provide the exact information we need, since you can only find info about the number of people aged between 20-39. After trying to find ANY data about the size of the population aged 18-39 I cross referenced various sources to roughly estimate the number of people who are aged 18 and 19 in the US, I added this rough estimate to the official US census data for the number of people in the 20-39 age bracket. So it won’t be 100% exact, but it will still provide you a general idea of how many actual people like the movies better or worse!
So what you see here is the Rasmussen Reports survey translated into absolute numbers, based on official US census data and my estimates on the number of people aged 18 and 19 in the US.
Overall, more people think the movies are worse than they are better. This once more highlights that there is a split among people who watch Star Wars movies. A good number of people like them better, mostly younger people, whereas many people are somewhere inbetween and think the movies are about the same quality or they are not entirely sure, and the biggest single group is the one who thinks the Disney Star Wars movies are worse. And it is especially the older generation who predominantly like the new movies worse than the original six movies. That shouldn’t surprise anyone really, given how the original characters were treated in the sequels.
No matter how you look at it this result must be very troubling for Lucasfilm and Disney. Because so many people think the Disney Star Wars movies are worse. You don’t want that of course. And it’s even more troubling that the Original Trilogy Generation, the people who still buy action figures and other random merchandise, are not very much in favor of the Disney Star Wars movies. But even among the younger generation a quarter think the new movies are worse.
But what about the different sexes? Do men and women have different opinions on Disney Star Wars?
Disney and Lucasfilm cannot be happy at all about the results of the Rasmussen Reports survey. Disney Star Wars made numerous attempts to get even more girls into the fandom and the sequels especially were made to appeal to women. Rey was the main character after all.
But what do we see? Women have a less favorable opinion of Disney Star Wars than men! In fact, a lot more men have a favorable view of the Disney Star Wars movies than women. Kathleen Kennedy cannot be happy about that. Especially women who either grew up with the prequels or original trilogy rarely think that the new movies are better, even though they were geared towards them much more than previous Star Wars movies. And a lot more younger women, below the age of 40, think the new movies are worse than their male counterparts. This is probably the single most surprising finding of the survey, that women have a much less favorable opinion of the Disney Star Wars movies than men. By quite some margin. I honestly did not expect that. It seems the Lucasfilm strategy, and here Kathleen Kennedy’s strategy, not only did not work, it actually backfired.
Rasmussen Reports also grouped the results by political affiliation, i.e. do Democrats and Republicans differ in their opinion on Disney Star Wars? The results will surprise no one.
People who self-identify as Democrat have a somewhat better opinion of the Disney Star Wars movies. Whereas Republicans and Independents mostly dislike the new movies.
Of course Lucasfilm and Disney will have their own surveys, the results of which they will never release to the public. But given these results by independent analysts we can see that Disney and Lucasfilm cannot be happy at all about the perception of modern Star Wars movies. Women, who were targeted more than before, like the movies much less than men. A majority of people have an unfavorable opinion of the movies. And women below the age of 40 think the movies are worse much more than men below the age of 40 do. The demographic that was primarily targeted with the new movies has the most unfavourable opinion of them. It is always possible of course that a number of very disappointed female Reylo fans voiced their dislike here, since The Rise of Skywalker crushed this subset of fandom. But without additional data it’s impossible to say.
Well, we haven’t had new Star Wars movies since 2019 and with nothing planned until 2025 at least for a reason of course. And Star Wars fatigue is certainly not it. Despite claims to the contrary by Bob Iger.
Lucasfilm needs to look at the data long and hard to find out why especially women have a much less favorable view of the new movies than men, with Rey and Jyn Erso being the two main female protagonists. Is it possible women like Leia in the OT and maybe Padme in the PT much better? Didn’t they like how the romance aspect was handled in the new movies?
Now that we have settled the question about whether or not people like the sequels (more people think they are worse than the original Lucas movies, sorry Rian Johnson fans….) let’s close out this article by looking at fandom as a whole. As in: how many Star Wars are there in the US? Rasmussen Reports surveyed a representative sample of all US citizens… but that doesn’t tell us how many people actually identify as fans of Star Wars.
I used various sources (YouGov, Statista etc) to compile the data about the number of Star Wars fans in the US.
First, here is a chart from Statista, that gives us a basic overview:
You can see that the “avid fans” are the smallest group, as expected, the casuals outnumber them by some margin and then a sizable percentage of people are no fans of Star Wars at all. What should be troubling to Disney and Lucasfilm here is that a whopping 45% of people in the 18-29 demographic say they are no fans of Star Wars. In fact, among the “avid fan” group the people who grew up with the prequels and original movies greatly outnumber the younger generation.
But once more looking at percentages only tells you so much, it would be much more interesting to look at numbers, I once again used official US census data combined with charts from Statista to compile the following charts!
Here you see the Statista chart translated into absolute numbers. Enlarge the chart to better read the numbers. The single biggest group among the avid and casual fans is the demographic that was 6-20 years old when the prequels were released. I.e. they are the prequel generation for the most part. And it should surprise no one that they are the most numerous among the avid and casual fans. The US population has increased by a lot since 1977 when A New Hope was first released. Among the avid fans the Original Trilogy generation just barely outnumbers the younger demographic, due to the size of the age bracket. The younger generation is a minority among avid Star Wars fans, but still about the same size as the OT generation in absolute numbers. Once again, this should surprise no one. Star Wars fandom overall skews towards the older part of the population, something that will of course cause much concern at Lucasfilm and Disney, they have tried very, very, very hard in recent years to create entertainment geared towards young people and kids specifically. With not much success.
Let’s visualize the data in a different way, by grouping by age, not fan group:
Once again, this is the same data as in the Statista chart, only visualized differently and using absolute numbers instead of percentages.
You can clearly see here how the younger generation is mostly not interested in Star Wars at all. By quite some margin. Whereas the prequel generation is much more passionate about the franchise, more passionate even than the original trilogy generation. And seniors who were in their late teens when A New Hope was first released are mostly not all that interested in Star Wars.
In total numbers: 12,08 million people in the 18-29 age bracket say they are avid Star Wars fans. Compared to 41,5 million people aged 30 and older who say they are huge fans. In other words, only 22.5% of all big Star Wars fans are younger than 30.
One final tidbit: 15.8% of all Americans are in the 18-29 age group. So even though younger fans are a minority among the avid fans they are somewhat overrepresented. This is explained by the 65+ demographic that is mostly disinterested in Star Wars.
Ok, on to the final question then: how many female fans of Star Wars are there? For this I used a YouGov survey from the time when The Force Awakens was released, more recent data is hard to come by, but I don’t think there were any significant changes since then.
To make it short: overall 59.67% of Star Wars fans are men. 40.33% of Star Wars fans are women.
YouGov offers two different groups, people who like Star Wars “a lot” and people who like it at least “a little”, what do the numbers say in detail here?
Fans who like Star Wars a lot: 65.74% are men, 34.26% are women. It should not be a huge surprise that somewhat more men are hardcore fans than women, but even in the “like Star Wars a lot” group one third of all fans is female. In short: Star Wars appeals to both sexes, somewhat more to men than women, but women are very well represented in fandom, maybe not so much in action figure collecting.
This YouGov data I used to compile the numbers also aligns with the data provided by the MPAA, in their annual reports they always reported that roughly 40% of all people who watched a Star Wars movie (any of the sequels etc) were women.
And I believe that should answer all the questions you may have had?
We know for sure now that more people think Disney Star Wars movies are worse than the original movies than there are people who think they are better. The demographic aged 30+ likes Star Wars the most. For some reason women like the sequels much less than men, which should raise all the eyebrows at Lucasfilm. And 40% of all fans are women! Sadly, not to be found here, but there are cosplayers, fan fiction writers and all the people who just enjoy the movies and series. Star Wars has always appealed to people of all ages and genders. There was and is no real reason to tweak the formula, contrary to what Kathleen Kennedy and Lucasfilm may think.
The only thing of real concern is the apathy among younger fans where a majority of people say they have no interest in Star Wars. But in absolute numbers the fanbase even among the younger generation is still sizable. About as many young people as members of the Original Trilogy generation are Star Wars fans if we just look at the absolute numbers. This may surprise some of the older fans, who probably feel they are the largest group by far, they are not, this title goes to the prequel generation, again, no surprise, there simply were more people living in the US in 1999 than in 1977. Yet there is a downward trend when we see that among the younger demographic Star Wars has fewer fans than among the prequel generation. That trend needs to be stopped if Disney wants to have a bright future for Star Wars as a dominant pop culture phenomenon.
Summary for people with short attention spans:
Did any of the results surprise you here? Leave your thoughts in the comments!
Rasmussen Reports Star Wars survey (paywall)
Bounding Into Comics article citing the Rasmussen Reports survey data
YouGov Survey (PDF)
Category: General News
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