AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - Nearly half of humans believe in alien life and want to make contact, a survey in 24 countries has found, in what researchers said helps to explain the lasting popularity of the "Star Wars" franchise 40 years after the first movie was screened.
On the eve of the release of "The Last Jedi", researchers published findings that 47 percent of more than 26,000 respondents believe "in the existence of intelligent alien civilizations in the universe".
An even greater 61 percent said "yes" when asked if they believe in "some form of life on other planets". Roughly a quarter said they do not believe intelligent life exists beyond Earth, researchers at Glocalities said.
Among those who believe we are not alone in the universe, 60 percent said we should try to seek contact with alien civilizations, it found.
It was not the first survey to collect views on extraterrestrial beings -- questionnaires in Germany, Britain and the United States have found similar rates -- but researchers said this was the largest poll of its kind with such global reach.
"The high score on the belief in the existence of intelligent alien civilizations and the distinct profile of these people partly explains the immense popularity of space movies such as Star Wars," said research director Martijn Lampert.
"People who believe in the existence of intelligent alien civilizations are not a marginal minority," he said.
The most believers in intelligent alien life were in Russia, at 68 percent, trailed closely by Mexico and China, with the down-to-earth Dutch bottoming out the list at 28 percent, the poll found [www.glocalities.com/universe].
The interviews were conducted in 15 languages between December 2015 and February 2016 in countries representing 62 percent of the world's population and 80 percent of the global economy.
"The Last Jedi," the eighth installment of the blockbuster "Star Wars" series, debuts in theaters next week.
(Reporting by Anthony Deutsch, editing by Larry King)