And the most sought after film on Earth is...Project X?
On Thursday, Torrent Freak released lists of 2012's most pirated films and television shows. Game of Thrones topped the list of illegally downloaded television shows, with more than 3 million downloads per episode. It's not hard to understand its appeal to the mostly young, mostly male pirate downloaders of the world: It's a critically acclaimed HBO production that features at least several pairs of exposed breasts per episode, so...
But the most illegally downloaded film of the year is a little more surprising — according to Torrent Freak, more people illegally downloaded the low-budget, no-name, high school party flick Project X than any other film this year. Worldwide, Project X made $100.9 million in 2012 — a number that puts it solidly in the bottom of the middle ranks as the 57th highest grossing film of the year; sandwiched between the horror exploitation flic The Devil Inside and the quirky animated ParaNorman.
Why was that relatively unknown film downloaded more times than, say, BuzzFeed's best movie of the year, The Dark Knight Rises? Or the highest grossing film of the year, The Avengers?
We have a theory: Aussies.
Most Pirated Television Shows of 2012
A country-by-country breakdown reveals that Australians are responsible for the largest share of illegal Game of Thrones downloads — the island continent accounts for a full 10.1% of those downloads worldwide.
"Ernesto," a blogger for Torrent Freak, suggests the reason Australians downloaded Game of Thrones more than people from any other country is because Australian fans are forced to wait an entire week after an episode has aired in America to see it in their country.
That makes sense for television shows — but what about films?
Most Pirated Movies of 2012
Turns out, the most pirated television show is mostly downloaded in Australia because Australians are represented far above their population in the pirating world.
They do more pirating per capita than any other country around the globe, according to a survey released earlier this year by the data and analytics company Musicmetric.
"Australia, with just over 19 million downloads, placed sixth in the top 10 for music downloads in the past year," the Sydney Morning Herald explained when the survey was released in September. That might not seem like a lot, but "with a population of 23 million for those 19 million downloads [Australia] was comfortably the most frequent user of unofficial or illegal sites."
We asked Torrent Freak's Ernesto if he could give us a country-by-country breakdown of the most pirated films. Sadly, he couldn't.
"Unfortunately not," Ernesto said via email. "This would require far more extensive logging and we don't have the resources to do so."
Was there any chance that he could tell us how many of this year's Project X downloads came from Down Under?
"The only thing I can say is that 7 percent of the people who are currently downloading the film are from Australia," Ernesto said.
Seven percent? Crikey!
Most of the films on this year's list are top-grossing, big-budget studio films. All of them, in fact, except number one.
So, why do Australians care so much about Project X? The film, which takes place in suburban Pasadena, is the familiar tale of a trio of high school boys who, in their quest for popularity, throw a house party that quickly spirals out of their control.
The film might hold particular appeal to Aussies because it is based on real events that took place in Melbourne, Australia — more specifically, a party thrown by native son Corey Worthington.
Worthington gained infamy in 2008 after a small get-together with some friends turned into a rager with more than 500 attendees. The revelers trashed his neighborhood, but that wasn't what made the party go down in history — the thing that made the party, and Worthington, famous was his interview with a reproachful news anchor who tried, unsuccessfully, to get Worthington to remove his sunglasses.
Four years later, Worthington is still riding the wave of fame generated by the party, the interview, and the film — as evidenced by his Twitter feed, chock-full of #ProjectX hashtags.