Revised User Rating Demographics on IMDb for “Star Wars”

Since we first posted our analysis of user rating demographics on IMDb for all #StarWars films on Dec. 23, 2019, there has been a change in overall user ratings for “Star Wars IX: #TheRiseOfSkywalker” that we will now share. Namely, the overall user ratings for Ep. IX have dropped and now are in sync with the previously released “Star Wars” film: “#Solo: A Star Wars Story”.

Revised User Rating Demographics on IMDb for "Star Wars"

Revised User Rating Demographics on IMDb for “Star Wars” (Updated on Jan. 2, 2020)

This downward shift for Ep. IX gives the film an overall “D+” rating and places it into the same “D”-rated films as “Star Wars I: #ThePhantomMenace”, “Star Wars II: #AttackOfTheClones” and “Solo: A Star Wars Story”.

Examining Age Demographics More Closely

We also decided to take a closer look at the overall demographics for each film regarding age groups and gender to see if any patterns emerge. The results follow.

Screen Shot 2020-01-02 at 3.19.25 PM

Sorry that this chart is a little busy, but some interesting patterns do emerge, though the user ratings per age group also need to take into consideration the age of the IMDb website, the age of the Internet, how many people had Internet access over time, and the age when the voters actually saw the films:

  • Since IMDb was launched on Oct. 17, 1990, it didn’t exist when the original trilogy was released. Hence, all of the user ratings for those films would’ve all occurred at least 7 to 13 years after the films were released; but the vast majority of those user ratings wouldn’t have started to probably accumulate for another 10 years over that. Hence, the age data won’t be based on when the films were released.
  • Only 4.1% of the world’s population was on the Internet when “Star Wars I: The Phantom Menace” was released. This grew to 14.6% when “Star Wars III: Revenge of the Sith” was released. 46% of the world’s population had Internet access when “Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens” was released, and that number is now 58.8%.
  • The older the films, the more user ratings accumulate over time and the recorded age for each user rating is based on the age of the individual when the user ratings were first recorded. Some individuals may also have changed their user ratings over time and it’s not clear which age would remain: the age of the original user rating or of the most recent user rating.

So we can draw the following conclusions from these data issues:

  • The older the films are, the less likely the age data will reflect the age of the users when they rated the films.
  • The age data is less valid for older films than for newer films.

In spite of these data issues, we can still find some interesting patterns and correspondences.

  • Only those users who are at least 42 years of age were alive when “Star Wars IV: A New Hope” was released. The “45 >” age group most closely represents those who would’ve been able to see this film in theaters; but they would’ve been young children at the low end of this age range.
  • Only those users who are at least 36 years of age were alive when “Star Wars VI: Return of the Jedi” was released. Everyone in the “45 >” age group could’ve seen this film in theaters, as well as the upper range of the “30-44” age group. Anyone who saw this film who are currently in the “30-44” age group would’ve been very young children when this film came out; and people in the “45 >” age group would’ve been at least 9 years old.
  • Only those users who are at least 20 years of age were alive when “Star Wars I: The Phantom Menace” was released. Anyone currently in the “30-44” age group would’ve been 10 to 24 years old when this film came out. Anyone currently in the “45 >” age group would’ve been at least 25 when this film came out.
  • Only those users who are at least 14 years of age were alive when “Star Wars III: Revenge of the Sith” was released. Anyone currently in the “30-44” age group would’ve been 16 to 30 years old when this film came out. Anyone currently in the “45 >” age group would’ve been at least 31 when this film came out.
  • Since 10 years separate “Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens” from “Star Wars III: Revenge of the Sith”, anyone who saw the latter film in theaters as children would now be in their late teens or early 20’s now. Those in their 20’s then would be in their 30’s now and those in their 30’s then would be in their 40’s now. Anyone who remembers seeing “Star Wars IV: A New Hope” in 1977 would likely be at least in their 50’s or older now.

In other words, grandparents today who saw the original trilogy in theaters could be taking their grandchildren to see the Disney sequel trilogy. Parents who saw the prequels as children could be taking their children to see the Disney trilogy. And, the people who were parents when the prequels came out would likely have been children themselves when the original trilogy came out.

So what does the age data on IMDb tell us?

  • The people who most love the the first two original trilogy films are either children today or were children when the films first came out. The people in between (who were children when the prequels came out) like these two films slightly less.
  • Males who were young children when Ep. VI came out liked the film more than other male groups: Ewoks. Ewoks don’t appear to have had the same impact with female viewers.
  • Males who were young children to early 20’s when the prequels came out enjoyed them more than other males, including those who were children when the original trilogy came out. For females, the older they get, the less they like the prequels regardless of how old they were when the films came out or weren’t yet born when they came out.
  • For Ep. VII, males who were children when the prequels came out liked the film best, as do all females who are 29 years of age or younger.
  • For Ep. VIII, both males and females who are 29 years of age or younger prefer this film over other age groups, which includes people who were young children when the prequels came out. Males who could’ve seen the original trilogy in theaters also like the film slightly more, but not as much as males 29 years of age and younger.
  • For Ep. IX, the greatest appeal is for both males and females who could’ve seen the original trilogy in theaters. In other words, nostalgia made a difference, but the younger the males, the more likely the disliked the film. Females who could’ve seen the prequels as children liked this film the least among female viewers.

Conclusion

While Disney succeeded in having their sequel trilogy appeal more to female viewers than male viewers overall, they weren’t as successful in building an audience with today’s children, which isn’t necessarily a positive long-term development when combined with the lack of overall appeal for the prequels a generation earlier. As the older generation who grew up with the original trilogy as children dies, the most appealing films continue to be the original trilogy. In other words, none of the Disney sequel trilogy films were able to touch the love that the original trilogy continues to have and has had for several generations.

References

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