Star Wars: The Last Jedi currently has a lower Audience Score on Rotten Tomatoes than even the Star Wars prequels.
The highly-anticipated sequel to 2015’s The Force Awakens received amazing critical praise early on, but seems to have landed with a thud with many Star Wars fans. The Rian Johnson directed eighth Star Wars episode currently has a 93% positive rating from critics on review aggregate Rotten Tomatoes, but has only scored a 56% positive from audiences.
To put this in perspective, The Force Awakens had the same critical score of 93%, but an 88% audience score. The original Star Wars trilogy films had audience scores of 96% (A New Hope), 97% (The Empire Strikes Back) and 94% (Return of the Jedi).
Even the prequels fared a bit better with audiences, including the much-derided Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace, which currently sits at 59% audience approval. In fact, The Last Jedi has the lowest Audience Score of any live-action Star Wars movie to date.
Here are the Star Wars films ranked by Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score (minus The Clone Wars, which was essentially a pilot for the animated TV series):
- The Empire Strikes Back – Audience Score 97% | Critical Score 94%
- A New Hope – Audience Score 96% | Critical Score 93%
- Return of the Jedi – Audience Score 94% | Critical Score 80%
- Rogue One: A Star Wars Story – Audience Score 87% | Critical Score 85%
- Revenge of the Sith – Audience Score 65% | Critical Score 79%
- The Phantom Menace – Audience Score 59% | Critical Score 55%
- Attack of the Clones – Audience Score 57% | Critical Score 66%
- The Last Jedi – Audience Score 56% | Critical Score 93%
That’s a huge discrepancy between critical praise and audience reaction… nearly 40 points. Clearly this is going to be one of the most divisive films in the franchise.
Many web sites are pointing out that another recent tentpole movie had a similar chasm between critical and audience reception, but in reverse. Justice League had only a 40% critical rating, but an 80% audience score. This lead to many DC Comics fans crying foul about Rotten Tomatoes’ reviews.
“This is not going to go the way you think.”
Fans have been very vocal about their dislike of The Last Jedi on social media. In what should have been a slam dunk for the studio, angry fans have instead decried the portrayal of Luke Skywalker, oddly timed humor and unsatisfactory answers to big questions posed in The Force Awakens.
How any of this will impact how The Last Jedi performs at the box office remains to be seen. It’s set to break records at the box office this weekend, but may see a dropoff after the word of mouth gets out there.
And if the audience reaction remains tepid, it’s possible that the box office for J.J. Abrams’ Star Wars Episode IX will suffer for it.
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