Top Pirated Movies of 2009 & Other Top 10′s

Published 5 years ago by , Updated February 15th, 2014 at 4:27 pm,

Pirated Movies Top Pirated Movies of 2009 & Other Top 10s

Remember the big debacle with the Wolverine piracy stunt?  It stirred quite the debate across the net between classic respectful consumers vs the modern-day internet consumer with the oddest of excuses for what is known as stealing.  But then the movie still made its money.  They all make their money no matter what pranks people pull.

Me, in case you didn’t know…  I actually pay for the products I use.  It’s the old fashion thing to do!

But what of pirated movies?  Was there a more popular movie to steal than Wolverine? There certainly was and we have the list of the top 10 most pirates movies of the year along with top 10 lists for total domestic box office earnings and top DVD sales.

The most pirated movie out there was J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek, edging out Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen with almost 11 million illegal downloads. The 3rd most downloaded film was Guy Ritchie’s RocknRolla.

With RocknRolla, people wonder if the mere $26 million it made could have been more if WB actually marketed it properly or if people had actually gone to see it instead of steal it. But alas, you know how we here at Screen Rant feel about the matter.

The article on THR esq. makes a great debate about how the process of a movie release potentially contributes to the process instead of just releasing everything at the same time to the theater, DVD etc.

So what were the top 10 illegally downloaded movies?

MovieEst. Downloads (Mil)Worldwide Box Office ($Mil)
Star Trek 10.96385.5
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen 10.60835.0
RocknRolla 9.4325.7
The Hangover 9.18459.4
Twilight 8.72385.0
District 9 8.28204.6
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince 7.93929.4
State of Play 7.4487.8
X-Men Origins: Wolverine 7.20373.0
Knowing 6.93183.3

For those who have made a habit out of stealing, they’ll pitch their argument that the movie still made money.

It’s an interesting top-10 list, that’s for sure.  And if these movies were the most illegally downloaded, does this portend to a brand new kind of top-10 list we have to start reporting on?

So this got me to thinking.  How do the illegal downloads add up with legitimate sales numbers?  Is there a trend in theft that can be applied to legitimate numbers?

Let’s take a look and see what we see:

TOP DVD SALESSales Revenue for 2009 ($ millions)
1Twilight 175.3
2Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen 187.2
3Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa 107.0
4Up 101.4
5Bolt 80.9
6Monsters vs. Aliens 73.8
7Star Trek 60.6
8Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs 70.3
9X-Men Origins: Wolverine 68.8
10The Proposal 66.5

chart source: The Numbers


TOP U.S. BOX OFFICEB.O. for 2009 ($ in mil)
1Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen$402
2Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince$302
4The Hangover$277
5Star Trek$258
6The Twilight Saga: New Moon$231
7Monsters vs. Aliens$198
8Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs$197
9X-Men Origins: Wolverine$180
10Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian$177

chart source: The Numbers

Closing Thoughts

Star Trek was the top grossing illegal download, but Star Trek was 7th and 5th in the DVD and Box Office Charts.  Hmm.  I’m starting to think that some of you who say you’re previewing a film illegally to know you’ll buy it, aren’t following through on that line.  Yet it looks like Transformers then contends in the other direction.  Then The Hangover looks to go in either direction.  The Hangover was 4th on the illegal download chart, but non-existent in the top-10 of DVD purchases while it was 4th in 2009 of Box Office performers.

That is, if these charts could be compared to each other.  Initial review makes me wonder, but scientifically, there’s so much more that can go into this little comparison that we could go on and on for a while.

Source:  THR esq

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  1. I saw Trek 3 times at the cinema, and yes i did download too, I also bought the DVD. So I cant see a problem.

    As for Wolverine, downloading it was the best thing I had ever done. If I had spent £10 watching it at the cinema I might have been angry enough to finally kill!

  2. What were the top TV on DVD sales? I don’t know whether they’ve posted that or not, but it could be interesting.

  3. These torrent stats are from a single public source and don’t include all public sources and all private sources, so the stats may be a reflection but they aren’t accurate by any means. But if they were (or if they’re close enough to take as a guide) the impact of torrents on box office or DVD sales is impossible to gauge because few people can afford to see every movie or buy every movie they would download, people will download movies they otherwise wouldn’t bother considering, some will download films that they already paid to see, and others will pay to own films they’ve already downloaded just to have it as part of their bookshelf collection (although I’m guessing this latter point is definitely a minority occurrence). The real impact of piracy can never ever be determined. Obviously it has a negative impact, but given that 2009 was a record year at the box office, and given that there is a clear disparity between downloads and DVD sales, I would propose that the effect of piracy is definitely overshadowed by the punishment. I mean, you can get life in a federal prison for having a collection of downloaded movies. You can’t even get that for rape or, just as often, murder. Ridiculous in my view, especially when the impact can’t actually be quantified other than to say “It’s probably pretty bad.” Just my view.

  4. No some of us DL it to see if we want to see it in the theater or just RENT it.

    As for this line “Me, in case you didn’t know… I actually pay for the products I use. It’s the old fashion thing to do!”

    You need to go to the Vatican and apply for Sainthood. However me thinks you would still have chinks in your armor. Maybe not video chinks but others.

    I did enjoy your article except for the obvious “jabs” to illicit a response.

    Also you state for fact they are downloaded where I believe (I checked the site out earlier) they state it is an ESTIMATE. They dont even know if the movies were fully downloaded that many times.

    To make an accurate comparison you need to take sales of tickets, sales of the DVD and rental fees to include NETFLIX, etc. Then compare it to complete downloads.

    However estimates are like statistics. Statistics show that it is estimated %50 of Statistics are made up %50 of the time. ;)

  5. Didnt Hollywood make billions this year? I DL the odd movie, but usually only after having seen it!

  6. A really outstanding article, Bruce. It’s clear that the reach and general scope of piracy is something that cannot only be gauged accurately, but the definition has so many different “meanings” for different people that it’s no wonder the right/wrong meter varies on mileage :)

    Thanks for your input and looking forward to more discussion.

  7. DrS,

    Is there something you may have DL’d and did not see (rental/purchase or theater) besides Wolverine?

    Was there a movie that you did DL and enjoyed it so much you had to have it that you may have never rented/saw in a theater? (Equilibrium was mine)

    just curious.

  8. Since Blu Ray came out I started to collect again.
    In my view even the bad purchases I made (Ong-Back2) didn’t make me angry that i wished i just downloaded it. It’s part of my collection now. I think to buy Movies is like collecting postage stamps. I never realy get the …”I preview Movies by downloading it first”-Comments. Becouse that is why they invented Rental Services. But anyways, I can see that people who are short on cash just cannot afford to rent or buy movies constantly. But just look at the results. Sometimes this behavior is responsible for not having a sequel to a great movie, rushed underbudget movies wih poor scripts and to top it all: more stressfull antipiracy politics which, in the past, alreday coused more problems for the folks who buy their stuff (i.e. copyprotection which disabled some types of dvd-players in the past….gosh i’m glad that is over). I realy hope the Cameron 3D Age will bring some change here.

  9. Oh and to DL it just to decide if you should watch it in Theaters is like reading the end of a book to decide if you should completly read it. You just steal yourself the whole experience. I have a group of 5 movie freaks around me. We go frequently in most of the Movies and even the bad movies give us enough fun by just discussing why it was so bad (i.e T4… I think we spend more time after the movie talking about it then watching it). Every Pirat is missing out in my mind!

  10. @Haggi,

    I collect comics and cards. I dont believe you can correlate something like that with the movies. Before I make a purchase of a comic or card I can inspect it. I can check it out to find out if it is worth my investment.

    Same with a movie. I can DL it see if I want to invest the time money into a theater visit, a rental must, or a theater visit into a must buy.

    Also (most times depending) if I find the product I buy (comic/card) is not what it was represented to be I can get my money back. How many times do you think you could do that with a movie at your local theater?

  11. @ Aknot

    I downloaded both Moon and Distict 9, I had to buy them both when they came out.

    I saw Sherlock Holmes the other night, I might download it, but I will most definetely but it next year, no doubt.
    The reason Star Trek is top, is because it took such a long time to come out on DVD. Over 6 months.

    Although I remember when it used to take years for a movie to come out on video!

  12. gah see I forgot about Moon. I need to rent that. hahahaha yeah then the machine would eat the video….

  13. @ Aknot:

    but don’t you think your robbing yourself the whole experience of watching a Movie in the way you should experience it? With friend on a big screen, laughing at the bad parts and enjoying the good ones?

    Do you think that a so called “preview” of Avatar whould have told you anything about the gloryious awsomness that Avatar 3D would have done to your eyeballs?

  14. @Haggi,

    Nope. I dont go to a movie to laugh at the bad parts. I WANT to actually enjoy a movie. If im laughing Im hoping it is a purposely funny part. If not the movie has failed, and I shouldnt be there in the first place.

    Seeing the end or knowing the movie is only part of the experience as a whole for me.

  15. @Aknot: In my mind “the experience as a whole” cannot be whole if you watch it in the beginning.

    Also it is funny that you mentioned collecting comics isn’t the same. Part of the reason we collect is to have a complete collection. I myself collected every issue of X-Men in the past, till I kinda grew out of comic (just recently started to go and read Marvel again). So I don’t realy understand that. Say you collect Spiderman and are realy dissapointed by an Arc (i.e. Gauntlet) would you just skip it? I hope not…that would mean you don’t have a complete collection. For me that means no matter how bad it is , you would still buy it and a ispection doen’t realy make sence at all.

    Or lets say Movies: Would you first download Ironman 2 for inspection? or the coming Deadpool?
    If you collect Comicboook-Movies i think Ang Lees Hulk has to be part of it, no matter how bad it was!

  16. This comparison list of DVD sales to downloads is pretty silly considering that Star Trek, District 9 and others came out much later in the year. How could they even catch up to earlier released DVDs in terms of sales?

  17. Yes I have (CLONE SAGA) as a matter of fact One more Day almost ruined Spiderman for me. People collect for various reasons. The investment, to have the complete collection, for art, story telling.

    As for the movie experience… Using Avatar as an example. Are you telling me the experience is the same watching it on a 32 inch tube as opposed to a 60 foot screen with a 3d digitally enhanced surround sound sensorsmell system?

  18. Exactly the opposite.
    See for yourself: there are people who didn’t like the Movie but where still glad they saw it for the beautiful effect masterwork. So would that even happen if they dl Avatar before?

    And I’m sorry but investment is mostly heavily realted to complete collection.

  19. Ironman 2 proved itself with Ironman 1. There is almost no change in who is writing directing starring.

    Deadpool… it really depends on the clips, pics and vibe I get from pre release stuff.

    Yes I have just about all of the super hero movies on DVD. To include Less Hulk. Of course it was a used copy nothing like the boxed Spiderman with litho on movie cell I got. :D

  20. @Haggi

    I dont have every Dan Marino card PSA slabbed…. I have no where near a complete collection yet it has proven to be a nice investment.

    Avatar… again part of the whole experience. I put all those parts together to enjoy the movie as a whole. Be it with others, on a large screen, the 3d version, surround sound etc.

    If the movie, acting, story, etc is total crap but the special effects are out of this world…. it is still a crap movie to me. Special effects only enhance the movie. The movie itself (unless completely visual) is just a story. It comes down to how much each “part” counts towards the whole. (which is only held by each viewer)

  21. See all I’m saying is that I don’t think you are downloading for the right reason. =)

    See I live in Germany and did you guys know that Sam’s Evil Dead 1 and 2 in Uncut are against the Law here? and with against the law i mean you are not allowed to own a copy. That is a reason for downloading a movie.
    Or how about this: Watchmen Ultimate Cut will never come out in Germany. I may have the luxury to get the Import but waht about the fans who are not fluend in english.

    I can even understand the guys who download the movies which don’t have a worldwide release date since it sometimes take more the 2 month longer to see it in local theaters.

    Those a re just some of the reasons I would accept since it is out of protest. But downloading for inspection doen’t cut it for me. No hating or bad blood here, but it’s just the wrong reason for me at least =)

  22. The only reason I downloaded Moon, was because there were no cinemas near me showing it.

  23. @DrSam: fair enough

  24. Haggi Haggi Haggi… Regardless why you do it it is still “wrong”. Im not saying my way is acceptable. Im saying that is why I do it.

    Now in your case not only are you breaking piracy laws you are also breaking your countries law… ;) To me that is worse then just DL it for viewing for review.

  25. Almost everyone has at some point DL a movie, or song, or tv show.
    The only things i really DL illegally are US tv shows because it can take over a year for them to come out over here and only on uber expensive sky tv!

  26. Darren: Yes… they aren’t accurate. The lists are all we have and I did note what you pointed out. (Probably used the wrong words though!)

    Aknot: If I can’t afford it in the theater, I actually wait until it comes out on Pay Per View / On-Demand. I know that freaks people out, but I just never got into the “steal any way we can mode” with the oddest of excuses, off the internet! I’ve also never fallen for this ridiculous need to have to see something as soon as possible.

    Morgan: I got what I got as far as lists… and yes, you are right.

    Haggislaw: In my mind, no one is ever “downloading” for the right reason, no matter what they think they say they think. (Ow… I think I just hurt my brain writing that.)

    In General / Added Authors Thought:

    Patience is a virtue for me. I don’t care when something comes out or how long it takes to get to ON DEMAND… seeing something when it is released is no different than seeing it “as soon as I possibly can.”

    So what if you see / steal it within a few days of theatrical release? If you see it then or see it later, it’s the same experience on your 20″ computer monitor.

    The need to see it NOW mode, I think, is just people falling victim to general mass marketing the caters to the need and lack of patience.

    We all want something, the moment we want it. Where’s the harm in waiting? There is none, it’s all a judgment call.

    How do I determine if I want to see something? It’s super easy really. I watch the Box Office numbers and have faith in a few reviewers opinions that align with mine. Vic, being one of them, about 95% of the time.

    -Thanks for chiming in everyone! -Bruce

  27. @Aknot: Oh yeah of course it is worse law wise. But if you have no other way to see it, waht would you do? ;)
    Now im glad that it has gotten better with the horror flicks over here and It is not that restrictive as it once was.

    But that is why piracy should be all about.Piracy-numbers who generate out of protest are sending messages the industry can react to in a positive way for the fanbase till the fanbase has no reason to download it anymore. It’s a win/win for both teams on long term.

    Now I am also sure you may not be the perfect example for a movie pirate since you do it to decide wheater to buy or not. But there are so many other people who don’t give a s*** about the guys who made the movies and that realy pains me. Im afraid in the end the movies will suffer and in the end the fan =/

  28. @Bruce
    Nope that is the way you enjoy/want to see the film. I do concur it is not “right” however going 1 mile over the SL is not right either. I will accept punishment either way.

    As for the reasoning.. meh I say its just the fast paced society most of us live/grew up in to want to “see it now”.

    As for Piracy (movie) itself. I would love for a way to shut it down for a few years completely. Just to see the outcome and end results to the studios pocket books. I have a feeling they would be loosing more money then thay think just because of the reasons (not necessarily right) people download them.

    When someone DL it to reauthor and sell… well Im all against that. ;)

  29. @ Bruce: I see waht you mean and at this state of my life I abolutly agree. I can wait my 2 month, I can Import from UK or the States and It is even legal to own most of the “index” listed movies here (just illegal to distribute them now).

    All I say that those are mere reasons I could live with. =)