Despite the continued widespread condemnation from copyright holders and the hefty criminal penalties that go along with it, online piracy continued to run rampant in 2015, with figures revealing that movie piracy in particular was up significantly year over year (for reference, the most pirated film of 2015 was downloaded almost 50% more than 2014’s most pirated).
Given that 2015 was the biggest year ever for film, with over $11 billion in box office revenue in North America alone, it makes sense that piracy numbers would be up as well. But which movies were the most popular with pirates? Piracy tracker firm Excipio [via Variety] has released their data for the year and the results are a mix of obvious candidates and some real surprises. Here are the top 10 most pirated movies of the year.
10. Kingsman: The Secret Service – 30.92 Million Downloads
Rounding out the top 10 is director Matthew Vaughn’s kinetic spy action flick Kingsman: The Secret Service. Fortunately, despite being released earlier in the year and being so heavily pirated, Kingsman managed to become Vaughn’s most successful film to date and a sequel is already scheduled for release on June 16, 2017. Looks like the pirates couldn’t stop this one from becoming a hit!
9. Terminator: Genisys – 31 Million Downloads
Although it managed to pull in $440 million worldwide, making it the second highest-grossing entry in the series behind Terminator 2: Judgment Day, many moviegoers evidently weren’t willing to plunk down their hard-earned money for this disappointing Terminator sequel, to the tune of over 31 million downloads. We wonder if Paramount Pictures has dispatched any terminators to take out all of the thieves that denied them from earning even more revenue…
8. The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies – 31.57 Million Downloads
Peter Jackson’s half-hearted conclusion to the disappointing Hobbit trilogy still managed to have legs in 2015 despite being released at the tail-end of the previous year…at least, in terms of piracy rates, having been downloaded over 31.5 million times. Although it wasn’t very good and suffered from heavy piracy, The Battle of the Five Armies was still the second highest-grossing film of 2014, earning close to $1 billion worldwide.
7. Fifty Shades of Grey – 32.12 Million Downloads
Over 32 million people (or however many it takes to download a movie 32 million times) opted to watch Fifty Shades of Grey in the comfort of their own homes, and can you really blame them? We wouldn’t want to be seen in public, let alone pay, to watch this critically-trashed adaptation of E.L. James’ popular novel either. Despite their best efforts, the pirates did comparatively little to damage this film’s box office take, as it managed to pull in over half a billion dollars from sex-starved wives the world over.
6. American Sniper – 33.95 Million Downloads
American Sniper was one of the most popular movies of the first few months of 2015 — despite being a 2014 release — thanks in large part to its subject matter (films based on American war heroes are typically easy sells) and award season buzz. In fact, American Sniper was the highest-grossing film of 2014 in North America…but that still didn’t stop it from being downloaded close to 34 million times last year. How unpatriotic of those pirates!
5. Mad Max: Fury Road – 36.44 Million Downloads
One of the year’s very best films, Mad Max: Fury Road was a critical darling in 2015 and became one of 2015’s most talked about cinematic features. Unfortunately, all that buzz translated into high piracy numbers (as is usually the case), with over 36 million downloads recorded. Luckily, George Miller’s masterpiece was still able to earn enough to generate talk over possible sequels, but there’s no doubt that piracy denied Fury Road a significant amount of box office revenue, as it was nowhere close to being in the top 5 highest-grossing films of the year.
4. Jurassic World – 36.88 Million Downloads
Here’s where the piracy numbers start to fall more in line with what was most popular at the box office in 2015. Jurassic World simply made a killing in ticket sales, with only Star Wars: The Force Awakens managing to beat it. Of course, that $652 million domestic box office haul also translated to a lot of illegal downloads, with almost 37 million. Nothing surprising here.
3. Avengers: Age of Ultron – 41.59 Million Downloads
Although Jurassic World managed to eclipse this Avengers sequel’s box office numbers by a considerable margin, Marvel’s Avengers: Age of Ultron was evidently quite a bit more popular with pirates, to the tune of over 41.5 million downloads. To be fair though, Avengers: Age of Ultron was also released a couple months earlier than Jurassic World, so this disparity actually makes a lot of sense. What doesn’t make sense: why Marvel left that Thor cave scene in the final edit. That really didn’t go anywhere, did it?
2. Furious 7 – 44.79 Million Downloads
Don’t underestimate the power of fast cars, dumb (but kinda awesome) action, and collective grief; that’s one potent combination and it translated to some pretty insane earnings for Furious 7 last year. Currently sitting at No. 6 on the all-time box office charts, Furious 7 was a worldwide hit that (sadly) benefited from the untimely death of star Paul Walker in November 2013. That didn’t stop people from disrespecting Walker’s legacy by illegally downloading the film approximately 44.8 million times though. Apparently, nothing will sway pirates from their dastardly ways — not even tear-jerking bro love between Vin Diesel and Paul Walker.
1. Interstellar – 46.76 Million Downloads
What, surprised that Star Wars: The Force Awakens didn’t take the top spot? While it’s practically a guarantee that Disney and Lucasfilm’s Star Wars revival will become one 2016’s most pirated movies, it came out too late in the year to make it into the top 10 for 2015. Instead, we find Chrisopher Nolan’s mind-bending space movie Interstellar coming out on top. While it might seem strange for a 2014 release to be the most pirated movie of 2015, it actually makes sense. Interstellar was one of 2014’s most talked about pictures and had the added benefit of being available for download for the entirety of 2015, unlike the majority of other movies on this list. Taking that into consideration, don’t be surprised if The Force Awakens takes Interstellar‘s place this time next year…and for its download numbers to be even higher.