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I saw Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker in a sold-out theater Thursday night in New Hampshire. Because I'm a dumbass, I didn't get seats far in advance so I was stuck in the front row and my neck still hurts. You can learn a lot from a small group's reaction, and the couple hundred folks in my theater clapped in two places -- including at the end, no spoilers here -- although the applause wasn't exactly uproarious for the final movie in the Skywalker Saga.
The clapping was scattered, not a 10-minute standing ovation at Cannes. Several people did clap, though, suggesting they liked Star Wars: Episode IX. (I don't think they were clapping because it was over). But the lack of big Avengers: Endgame style reactions suggested they didn't love it.
So that matches the CinemaScore that came out. They poll moviegoers at various opening nights and have people fill out a card to average a grade. The opening night grade for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker was B+.
A B+ makes sense to me. It's the end of the Skywalker Saga and the answers we got were never going to please everyone. It's like Game of Thrones in that sense, and if you're heavily invested in the story, you're going to have strong feelings. And if you still have a lot of questions, you're basically out of luck. That B+ probably came from a few lower scores -- you known someone gave it an F -- and probably some higher As too.
It makes less sense to me, though, that Star Wars: The Last Jedi got an A CinemaScore. So did The Force Awakens. Do people agree with that Mandalorian actor that The Rise of Skywalker was the worst Star Wars movie? Heck, even The Phantom Menace got an A-. However, Star Wars: The Clone Wars animated movie got a B-, the lowest of the Star Wars titles polled.
Here are the CinemaScores for the Star Wars movies, except the original trilogy since they weren't polled:
The Phantom Menace --- A-
Attack of the Clones --- A-
Revenge of the Sith --- A-
The Force Awakens --- A
The Last Jedi --- A
The Rise of Skywalker --- B+
Rogue One --- A
Solo --- A-
The Clone Wars --- B-
So Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker got the lowest CinemaScore of the new trilogy, and lower than the prequels. I suspect a lot of that has to do with high expectations for the end of the Skywalker Saga. So much was cemented as final canon with this movie.
Critics and fans have tended to take opposite sides on the recent Star Wars movies. Rise of Skywalker currently has a 58% rating from critics but an audience score of 86% from 9,420 Rotten Tomatoes users. Over at IMDb, more than 68,100 users rated Episode IX a 6.9/10. That does suggest somewhere in the B/B+ range.
By contrast, Star Wars: The Last Jedi has a 91% RT rating from critics and only a 43% audience score from more than 215,000 RT users. Fans and critics were closer to each other on The Force Awakens, J.J. Abrams' previous movie before Rise of Skywalker. Episode VII has a 93% rating from critics and 86% from RT users. Force Awakens has a 7.9 rating on IMDb from more than 800,000 users; The Last Jedi has a rating of 7.1
User ratings will go up and down as more people see Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. Technically, it just opened yesterday and many fans will see it this weekend, with more following during the holiday break. But the CinemaScore will not budge. That's locked in from the selected people polled on opening night.
Have you seen Star Wars: Episode IX - The Rise of Skywalker yet? If so, do you agree with a B+ score? What grade would you give it? If you haven't seen it yet, are you waiting until it arrives on Disney+ to see it?