1. “Avatar” (2009)
Pirated 21 million times
Twelve years after the release of “Titanic,” Oscar-winning director James Cameron returned to movie theaters with the science-fiction epic “Avatar.” Many people wondered if the new film could ever hope to match the success of “Titanic,” which at the time was the highest-grossing film ever made.
Amazingly, “Avatar” surpassed the worldwide box office receipts of its predecessor, raking in $2.8 billion and becoming the newest box-office king of the world. It also went on to become the king of the illegally downloaded films.
2. (tie) “The Dark Knight” (2008)
Pirated 19 million times
“The Dark Knight” is the second film in director Nolan’s trilogy of “Batman” movies. A battle royale between the Caped Crusader and a sociopathic criminal known as the Joker, the movie featured one of the last performances of actor Heath Ledger, who died during post-production.
The film was released to critical raves and monstrous box office receipts, and went on to earn over $1 billion at the box office. It is currently the 12th-highest grossing film of all time, and it has been illegally downloaded 19 million times.
2. (tie) “Transformers” (2007)
Pirated 19 million times
The science fiction film “Transformers” was released in 2007. It received a lukewarm critical reception, with The Chicago Reader calling it a “gigantic commercial for Hasbro.”
The movie was more warmly received at the worldwide box office, where it earned $710 million. It has gone on to spawn two sequels and has been illegally downloaded 19 million times.
4. “Inception” (2010)
Pirated 18 million times
In 2010, director Christopher Nolan took a detour from his “Dark Knight” trilogy to make “Inception.” Part action movie, part heist caper and part science fiction thriller, the film was a huge commercial success, earning $825 million at the box office and solidifying Nolan’s status as a bravura filmmaker.
The film has been illegally downloaded 18 million times. While this is no doubt a sign of its immense popularity, it may also be indicative of home viewers wishing to watch the film over and over again in an effort to comprehend its extremely complicated story.
5. “The Hangover” (2009)
Pirated 17 million times
The comedy “The Hangover” was the raunchy surprise hit of 2009. The tale of four men struggling to remember a bachelor party gone horribly wrong resonated with audiences and earned $467 million in worldwide ticket sales.
The movie was illegally downloaded 17 million times, allowing home viewers to watch it over and over again. After all, who wouldn’t want to have regular access to footage of disgraced former boxer Mike Tyson singing Phil Collins songs?