The movie in question is Fast Five, the fifth installment of the Fast and the Furious film franchise. According to the site, the movie was downloaded more than 9 million times in 2011 via filesharing program BitTorrent, giving it the dubious distinction of being the most pirated movie of the year.
While 9 million downloads seems like a lot, that pales in comparison to last year’s winner, Avatar. The James Cameron epic was downloaded 16 million times in 2010 alone, and with roughly 21 million downloads since its 2009 release, it’s the most pirated movie of all time.
It’s probably not surprising that Avatar blows away Fast Five in terms of downloads, given that the former is the highest-grossing movie of all time. Still, box office success and pirating don’t necessarily correlate. While the movies on the 2011 list are mainly high-grossing blockbusters, two of the year’s biggest box office successes failed to make the cut: Transformers: Dark of the Moon and (ironically enough) Pirates of the Caribbean: On Strangers Tides.
Furthermore, the big gap in download numbers between Fast Five and Avatar is part of a larger trend: There simply weren’t as many people pirating movies in 2011, according to TorrentFreak. The site suggests that this is partially due to an increasing number of legal alternatives, as well as alternative sources of pirated movies.
The numbers could plummet even further in 2012 if pending anti-piracy legislation gets through Congress. A pair of controversial bills, the Protect IP Act and the Stop Online Piracy Act, aim to shut down popular torrent sites like the Pirate Bay, which would make it considerably harder to find illegal downloads. Still, critics including the largest technology companies have registered a number of objections to the bills, which they say would adversely impact sites not engaged in copyright violations.
Here are the top 10 most torrented movies of 2011, followed by the number of times it was downloaded.
1. Fast Five: 9,260,000
2. The Hangover II: 8,840,000
3. Thor: 8,330,000
4. Source Code: 7,910,000
5. I Am Number Four: 7,670,000
6. Sucker Punch: 7,200,000
7. 127 Hours: 6,910,000
8. Rango: 6,480,000
9. The King’s Speech: 6,250,000
10. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2: 6,030,000
Matt Brownell is a staff reporter for MainStreet. You can reach him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow him on Twitter @Brownellorama.