Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker has received a B+ CinemaScore from audiences, giving the J.J. Abrams-directed finale to the Skywalker Saga the lowest CinemaScore rating of any live-action Star Wars movie. The saga ender is also ranked as the second-worst live-action Star Wars movie on Rotten Tomatoes — behind only 1999's Episode I - The Phantom Menace — with a 57% "rotten" from critics. Conversely, The Rise of Skywalker currently has a 76% approval from moviegoers, according to its all audience score on Rotten Tomatoes.
The Rise of Skywalker was graded a B+ via CinemaScore, who polls exiting audiences on opening night to gauge movie appeal and success. Only 2008's animated Star Wars: The Clone Wars — not part of the episodic saga comprised of Episodes I-IX — has a lower CinemaScore, where it was ranked with a B-. CinemaScore ratings for the original trilogy, released between 1977 and 1983, do not exist.
Abrams’ own franchise relaunch, The Force Awakens, earned an A CinemaScore in 2015, as did its sequel, the Rian Johnson-directed The Last Jedi, in 2017. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Disney-Lucasfilm’s first spinoff set outside the episodic saga, also earned an A in 2016.
Young Han solo prequel Solo: A Star Wars Story, released over Memorial Day weekend in 2018, received an A- from audiences, as did all three of creator George Lucas’ prequel episodes: The Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith.
Asked about negative response from fans during a screening panel, Abrams responded, “I'd say that they're right. The people who love it more than anything are also right.”
“I was asked... ‘How did you go about pleasing everyone?’ I was like, ‘What?’ Not to say that should be what anyone tries to do anyway, but how would one even go about it? Especially with Star Wars,” he continued. “I don't need to tell anyone here, we live in a moment where everything immediately seems to default to outrage. And there's a kind of M.O. of it's either exactly as I see it or you're my enemy.”
Abrams added, “It's a crazy thing that there is such a norm that seems to be devoid of nuance — it's not about Star Wars, it's about everything ... we knew starting this any decision we made, a design decision, a musical decision, a narrative decision would please someone and infuriate someone else. And they're all right.”