It’s that time of the year when every inch of the Internet is packed with end-of-the-year lists, from the usual “best and worst” to more eclectic assemblages of data. In this age of widespread broadband, one annual metric that’s always interesting to check is what the most pirated films of the year were. You might think the list is inevitably going to parallel the films with the highest profile or box office — after all, more interest and more word of mouth should theoretically make it more likely that a potential pirate would have a given film in his or her cross-hairs. But that’s not always the case, and this year’s list of most pirated films does contain several surprises…and a whole lot of science fiction.
We’ve got the full list of the top 20 most pirated films below. A huge surprise right out the gate? Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy, one of the biggest success stories of the year, is nowhere on the list. So kudos to Marvel for making a blockbuster that even the pirates apparently want to pay for. Here’s the list, with the numbers listing millions of times they were downloaded:
- Lone Survivor – 19.13
- Captain Phillips – 19.82
- Edge of Tomorrow – 20.3
- Divergent – 20.31
- Noah – 20.33
- Godzilla – 20.96
- Transformers: Age of Extinction – 21.65
- 300: Rise of an Empire – 23.1
- American Hustle – 23.14
- The Hunger Games: Catching Fire – 23.54
- 12 Years a Slave – 23.65
- X-Men: Days of Future Past – 24.38
- The Legend of Hercules – 25.14
- Captain America: The Winter Soldier – 25.63
- Thor: The Dark World – 25.75
- The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug – 27.63
- Gravity – 29.36
- Robocop* – 29.88
- Frozen – 29.92
- The Wolf of Wall Street – 30.04
(* RoboCop listing combines data for both 1987 and 2014 versions.)
We’re glad to see Edge of Tomorrow edging onto the list at #18. Ideally all those people would have paid to see one of 2014’s most underrated flicks, but at least this means a bunch of people saw it. If you’re not one of them, get on that shit, will ya? The victim of a marketing campaign that never quite figured out how to put butts in seats, Edge of Tomorrow took in $369 million worldwide and it’s got a 90% Fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
Divergent aimed to take a bite out of that sweet, sweet Hunger Games money. With a worldwide box office of $288 million, against a production budget of $85 million, it did well enough to merit a sequel, but certainly not well enough to threaten Katniss Everdeen’s claim to the throne. It didn’t help that it was poorly reviewed, with a 41% Fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
The Godzilla reboot did much better in theaters, earning over half a billion dollars worldwide, and boasting mostly positive reviews and a 73% Fresh Rotten Tomatoes rating.
Transformers is one of those franchises that I can’t stand and still can’t fathom the popularity of, but there’s no question the property is a box office juggernaut. The latest installment, Age of Extinction, was no exception, earning over a billion dollars worldwide, with much of that from overseas box office. We weren’t the only ones who would have preferred to skip Mark Wahlberg’s adventure with Optimus Prime — it rates only 18% Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes.
Also no surprise to see The Hunger Games: Catching Fire put in an appearance on the most pirated list. Those of us who did pay for it rocketed its worldwide box office to $864 million. The Hunger Games also remain one of the few YA movie franchises that is both a critical and box office success, with Catching Fire standing at 89% Fresh.
X-Men: Days of Future Past combined the comic-book/superhero trend with a few of GFR’s favorite things: time travel and killer robots. The soft reboot of the X-Men franchise was one of the best Marvel flicks outside the actual Marvel Cinematic Universe, and that quality showed at the box office, earning $746 million worldwide. Wolverine and company’s latest adventure boasts an impressive 92% Fresh standing on RT.
Speaking of Marvel, Thor: The Dark World comes in at number five, which is kind of astonishing given the aforementioned lack of Guardians of the Galaxy. Don’t get me wrong, I dug The Dark World, but for it to outrank the IMHO far better Captain America: The Winter Soldier is definitely surprising. Then again, maybe that just means a bunch of people who weren’t willing to spring for a ticket were interested enough to pirate it. The Dark World earned $644 million worldwide and ranks at 65% Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes.
I’m kind of surprised to see Alfonso Cuarón’s Gravity on the list, especially as high as the top 5. After all, it came out in 2013, and it’s also a movie that ideally needs to be seen on the biggest screen possible. This isn’t a story that’s going to have nearly the same impact watching it on your laptop. Honestly, it’s probably not even worth the download time. Still, the piracy obviously didn’t hurt Gravity; it earned $716 million worldwide and has a RT rating of 97% — which, admittedly, is probably higher than it deserves.
The last sci-fi entry on the list is another shocker: the RoboCop remake. It was better than we were expecting, but also fairly forgettable. It took in only $242 million against a reported $100 million production budget. Critics weren’t kind — RT rates it 48% Fresh. Upon further thought, however, its high ranking on the most pirated list makes a certain kind of sense. It had the attraction of a familiar name, but a marketing campaign that obviously didn’t entice in as many viewers as the producers likely would have hoped. It’s a movie that people were curious about, but not necessarily curious enough to want to pay to check it out. That spells p-i-r-a-c-y.