Read on to find out, in our list of the top 10 most downloaded and pirated movies, ever. This time, I’ve included box office stats from IMDB as well, to see how they correlate.
1. Avatar (2010)
16.58 Million Downloads/Box Office $2.03 Billion
An industry-changing movie from director James Cameron, Avatar was the first movie to be shot and directed from the start with 3D as the target viewing method, and continues to be a benchmark for all other 3D releases today. The movie explores an epic struggle between the natives of the planet Pandora and the earth military forces as they attempt to mine the incredibly valuable Un-obtainium, with the most breath-taking CG we’ve seen yet.
2. Kick-Ass (2010)
11.4 Million Downloads/Box Office $48 Million
Originally a comic book, Kick-Ass follows a boy who wants to be a super hero, despite a complete lack of super powers, training, or real reason to become one. He soon finds himself famous thanks to YouTube though, and gains the attention of a ridiculously hard 11 year old girl and her gun-nut crime-fighting father.
Described as “morally reprehensible” by some, “a ridiculously entertaining, perfectly paced, ultra-violent cinematic rush” by others, Kick-Ass received mixed reviews to say the least.
3. Star Trek (2009)
10.96 Million Downloads/Box Office $385 Million
With a fan base of dedicated Trekkies begging for it, who wouldn’t want to make a Hollywood-quality Star Trek blockbuster? Though previous movies have been hit and miss, this one managed to break it to a mass audience, and we are the better for it. An all-star cast and an intriguing plot about the early days of the USS Enterprise put this movie safely in the top 3.
4. Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (2009)
10.6 Million Downloads/Box Office $836 Million
Is it possible to make a heartwarming film about giant transforming vehicle-robots? It seems so. Full of fantastic effects, and a surprising number of comedy moments, Transformers is an instant hit for any child of the 80’s. It also made for a great cinematic experience, which explains the high box office takings.
5. Inception (2010)
9.72 Million Downloads/Box Office $820 Million
A thrilling action movie that brings the concept of multi-layered, shared lucid dreaming and combines it with guns and bombs. The premise is about forcing an idea into someone’s head, through their dreams – resulting in a mind blowing movie that may take a few viewings to understand fully. Even more mind blowing is that lucid dreaming – the act of waking up consciously while remaining in a dream, is not in fact science fiction at all.
6. Shutter Island (2010)
9.49 Million Downloads/Box Office $127 Million
With DiCaprio as the lead in both this and Inception, he’s doing pretty well. Another one that’s going to potentially give you a headache as you try to make sense of what you’ve just seen, Shutter Island follows a detective who is sent to investigate a murderer who has escaped a hospital for the criminally insane. I can say no more without spoiling the plot, but suffice to say it’s an absolute winner.
7. RocknRolla (2009)
9.43 Million Downloads/Box Office $5 Million
Reminiscent of Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, a true London action/crime gun-fest full of cockney accents, Americans who we can all hate, and copious amounts of drugs. Absolutely dismal box office performance, but clearly still worth watching if it’s free.
8. The Hangover (2009)
9.18 Million Downloads/Box Office $277 Million
Guy gets engaged, guy goes to Vegas with friends for man-party, guys get drunk, guys lose aforementioned engaged friend… good times and hilarity ensues. It’s pretty textbook stuff, yet something about this movie has made it one of the best comedies of recent years. Reasonable success, the sequel promises to be one of the biggest hits of this year too.
9. Iron Man 2 (2010)
8.8 Million Downloads/Box Office $312 Million
The only real sequel in this list (Star Trek doesn’t count!), Iron Man 2 is another movie that really wants to be experienced in a cinema. Following the continued adventures of a rich CEO who invents an armoured robot suit that effectively makes him a superhero – much to the chagrin of his own company which makes weapons for the world. A new guy emerges on the scene though, resulting in epic robot battles.
10. Twilight (2009)
8.72 Million Downloads/Box Office $382 Million
Sexy male vampires and werewolves, programmed to have an almost drug-appeal to young girls. The female lead doesn’t quite fit in with her social group, when she discovers her knight in shining armour – in the form of a glittering vampire teenage heart-throb. A joke to many, but clearly appealing to many more, Twilight has become a powerful cultural phenomenon of this century.
So do the download figures correlate with the box office? For the most part, they do, but we can see a few anomalies in there. Firstly, Kick-Ass and RocknRolla seem to stand out as highly downloaded and pirated movies, yet not commercially successful. I suspect this was because they were relatively unknown and of niche appearance, so people weren’t willing to risk a pricey cinema trip on them. Second, Transformers and Inception seem to stand out in box office sales compared to their position in the list. I suspect this is because they are FX-heavy movies which really urge the viewer to get the complete “cinema experience”.
Note: These numbers were compiled from TorrentFreak.com annual summaries. Bear in mind that the figures for 2011 aren’t out yet – so it’ll be interesting to see where the 2011 statistics fit into this – they may even eclipse the entire top 10.
Were you expecting something else in the list? I’m shocked to see not a single Harry Potter in there, but then I’ve personally only ever been to see it at the cinema so perhaps I’m not alone in thinking it needs to be seen big-screen. What do you think? Let us know in the comments!