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Star Wars Sales Figures

Circulation as Reported in Publishers' Statements of Ownership
Filed with the United States Postal Service


When the first Star Wars movie was adapted by  Marvel in 1977, early issues of the comic book released before the movie came out. The first issue appeared in two different first printings, both newsstand editions for Curtis Circulation; one was a special rare variant with a test-marketed price. Beginning with the second issue, first printings were also released as part of Western Publishing's Whitman bagged comics program.

Once retailers knew they had a blockbuster on their hands, multiple printings were ordered, both by Curtis Circulation and, most consequentially, by Western for special Star Wars three-packs sold by its Whitman program. The result was that early issues of the title were the first comics to exceed 1 million copies per issue in sales since 1960; according to Jim Shooter, "Star Wars saved Marvel."

No circulation data was required to be published in the first two years of the series' existence, but Star Wars was  certainly the #1 title in the industry in 1977 and 1978; in 1979, when data first appeared, the Whitman factor had played out, and it was likely the #2 title, not far behind Amazing Spider-Man and just ahead of Incredible Hulk.

Sales declined every year after that, though 1984's sales were very close to those of 1983, when Return of the Jedi came out. By the last full year of the title's initial run, it was a lower-tier book at Marvel, selling less than a third of the copies of the market-leading Uncanny X-Men.

When Star Wars returned to Marvel in 2015, it repeated its initial feat, with the first issue selling more than a million copies. Star Wars' return to Marvel wound up adding more than $31 million to the Direct Market in 2015.

Some direct-market only information is available in the monthly reports.

 

 

  197719781979
Issue Statement appearing in: No statement filed No statement filed #33 March
Date of filing:10/1/79
Issues published during year:12
Annual subscription price:$5.00
Cover price during year:$0.40
Total Copies PRINTED (avg):497,018
Sales through DEALERS (avg):255,590
Sales by SUBSCRIPTION (avg):23,169
Total PAID circulation (avg):278,759
Samples by MAIL (avg):615
Samples OUTSIDE mail (avg):
Total FREE circulation (avg):615
TOTAL DISTRIBUTION:279,374
Copies not distributed (office):2,095
Copies not distributed (RETURNS):215,549
Reported % Paid/Requested:
% of RUN RETURNED:43.4%
Copies existent:281,469
SELL-THROUGH at RETAIL:56.1%
19801981198219831984
Issue Statement appearing in:#46 April#58 April#70 April#82 April#94 March
Date of filing:10/1/8010/1/8110/11/8210/6/839/28/84
Issues published during year:1212121212
Annual subscription price:$6.00$7.20$7.20$7.20$7.20
Cover price during year:$0.50$0.60$0.60$0.60$0.60
Total Copies PRINTED (avg):484,446455,651447,075389,772343,390
Sales through DEALERS (avg):230,308209,023173,285142,681144,451
Sales by SUBSCRIPTION (avg):25,67720,87631,89437,53235,466
Total PAID circulation (avg):255,985229,901205,179180,213179,917
Samples by MAIL (avg):620627719784859
Samples OUTSIDE mail (avg):
Total FREE circulation (avg):620627719784859
TOTAL DISTRIBUTION:256,606230,528205,898180,997180,776
Copies not distributed (office):7,2674,3535,2116,8554,177
Copies not distributed (RETURNS):220,574220,770235,966201,920157,987
Reported % Paid/Requested:
% of RUN RETURNED:45.5%48.5%52.8%51.8%46.0%
Copies existent:263,872234,879211,109187,852184,953
SELL-THROUGH at RETAIL:52.8%50.5%45.9%46.2%52.4%
19851986
Issue Statement appearing in:#105 May No statement filed
Date of filing:10/1/85
Issues published during year:12
Annual subscription price:$9.00
Cover price during year:$0.75
Total Copies PRINTED (avg):303,029
Sales through DEALERS (avg):117,881
Sales by SUBSCRIPTION (avg):23,208
Total PAID circulation (avg):141,489
Samples by MAIL (avg):877
Samples OUTSIDE mail (avg):
Total FREE circulation (avg):877
TOTAL DISTRIBUTION:142,366
Copies not distributed (office):813
Copies not distributed (RETURNS):160,050
Reported % Paid/Requested:
% of RUN RETURNED:52.8%
Copies existent:142,779
SELL-THROUGH at RETAIL:46.7%






Statement history:
Marvel did not publish any Statements in the first two years of the title's run, and as the series ended with #107 in the summer of 1986, there was no Statement for that year either.