Internet thieves are big fans of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle-earth, it seems. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey tops TorrentFreak’s annual list of the most pirated movies on BitTorrent networks in 2013, with Django Unchained and Fast and Furious 6 in the second and third place spots, respectively. The data is an estimate pulled from multiple sources, including download stats from public BitTorrent trackers, and it covers the period of time between January 1 and “mid-December” 2013. Since there’s no information available relating to piracy via online streaming or files shared in cyberlockers (a la Dropbox), the numbers are likely higher than TorrentFreak’s list suggests.
The Hobbit, which has grossed more than $1 billion worldwide since its release, was downloaded approximately 8.4 million times. Django came close to that, with 8.1 million, as did Fast and Furious 6, with 7.9 million. The rest of the list is filled out, in descending order, by Iron Man 3 (the year’s highest-grossing film, at $1.2 billion worldwide), Silver Linings Playbook, Star Trek Into Darkness, Gangster Squad, Now You See Me, The Hangover Part 3, and World War Z.
The piracy numbers compiled by TorrentFreak are lower for 2013 than they were in 2012, but not by much. Project X, the most-pirated movie of 2012, was downloaded approximately 8.72 million times and Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol, number two on the list, was nabbed 8.5 million times. There’s been a gradual decline in the number of illegal downloads since 2010, which ended with James Cameron’s Avatar in the top spot, at 16.58 million downloads.
That’s almost double where The Hobbit is at in 2013, though it’s hard to say if this is a sign that piracy is on the decline. Given the dearth of information available relating to these illegal activities, it’s entirely possible that a more knowledgeable Internet is relying on things like private BitTorrent trackers or the types of streaming and file-sharing that TorrentFreak’s data collection doesn’t cover.