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'The Hobbit' is most pirated film of 2013

Posted Thursday, January 2, 2014 at 4:37 PM Central

by John Couture

Piracy is illegal, but that doesn't mean that we can't track illegal downloads and draw some conclusions from the data. The biggest conclusion I can see is that those that choose to break the law have absolutely no taste when it comes to film.

With the sole exceptions of Silver Linings Playbook and Django Unchained, there isn't a single film that I would imagine would be worth breaking the law, and yet here we are. For some reason, according to Torrent Freak, 7.2 million people downloaded an illegal copy of Gangster Squad last year.

And don't even get me started on those who downloaded Now You See Me or Now You See Me. As someone who wouldn't even know how to get started in torrenting a movie (nor have the inclination since I make a living in the industry), I am interested to see what type of films people want to steal.

Are they the biggest blockbusters? Award winners that didn't play on any screens in their town? Or simply films that took forever to make their way to home entertainment. The answer is a mixed bag.

While certainly Silver Linings Playbook would be considered an awards season film, other awards-season films such as Argo and Life of Pi didn't crack the top 10.

Sure, The Hobbit made over $300 million at the box office, but Gangster Squad didn't even make $50 million. And most of the films like Gangster Squad had quick home entertainment turnarounds of three months or even less, so I'm left scratching my head.

Of course, the real question is how much revenue did the studios lose through these illegal downloads? And sure, you can simply take the numbers, say 8.4 million downloads for The Hobbit and multiply that by $10 for a movie ticket or $20 for a DVD/Blu-ray, but did Warner Bros. truly lose $84-$168 million on The Hobbit ? I'm pretty sure Warner Bros. was still quite happy with how The Hobbit performed, heck, I hear they are even making two more Hobbits.

But that doesn't condone the practice. The fact of the matter is that each illegal download accounts for some sort of lost revenue and the studios will pass that loss onto us in one way or another. I suppose that's one reason why we're creeping steadily towards a $20 movie ticket to see a film in theaters.

Sadly, I don't have any answers, but as technology improves, this will be an interesting battle to keep an eye on. For those curious, here are the top 10 films illegally pirated in 2013.

  1. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
  2. Django Unchained
  3. Fast And Furious 6
  4. Iron Man 3
  5. Silver Linings Playbook
  6. Star Trek Into Darkness
  7. Gangster Squad
  8. Now You See Me
  9. The Hangover Part III
  10. World War Z