The comic book adaptation Deadpool was one of the top grossing films of the year, taking in $363 million at the domestic box office. The Ryan Reynolds-starring comedy also made a number of critics lists for being one of the best genre films of the year. But there’s another year end list that the film has also made. According to download news site Torrent Freaks, Deadpool was also the most illegally downloaded film of 2016.
According to the site, pirated copies of the movie began to appear on line for downloading almost as soon as it premiered in theaters last February. As in years past, this annual ranking tends to skew towards films that have been out for longer. The most recent film on the list, Suicide Squad, hit theaters in August, meaning Deadpool had nearly a six month head start on it.
Bit Torrent ranked the films “based on several sources, including download statistics reported by public BitTorrent trackers.” They avoided attaching specific download numbers to each film, citing “Due to various changes in the torrent index/tracker landscape.”
Here’s the entire Top 10 list –
- Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice
- Captain America: Civil War
- Star Wars: The Force Awakens
- X-Men: Apocalypse
- Independence Day: Resurgence
- Suicide Squad
- Finding Dory
- The Revenant
Interestingly, we do see some crossover between this list and the Top 10 grossing films of the year, with five films – Deadpool, Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice, Captain America: Civil War, Suicide Squad and Finding Dory – finding spots on both. This would seem to fly in the face of the Motion Picture Association of America’s long held assertion that the downloading of films causes a significant impact on box office receipts.
When looking at these statistics, it is important to remember to not make the false assumptions that the studios would like you to make, i.e., that every download equals a lost ticket sale. If anything, it is much easier to assume that not every person who downloads a film had the intention of seeing it in a theater if they had a chance. As this list is global, it may be that some downloaders are in areas where the film was not released. (Deadpool went unreleased in China, one of the biggest movie markets outside of the United States, which may have led to bigger download numbers than usual in that country.) A single torrent user may have downloaded multiple file versions of the same film looking for the best quality version. Such activity would certainly invalidate claims that each download equals one ticket sale lost. One could have bought a ticket and seen a film in the theater but downloaded the film as it was not available yet on home video to rewatch. A torrents user could have downloaded a film to sample it, and finding it to their liking, go out to the theater to see it on the big screen.
Are any of these valid excuses to download a film? That is up to each person to decide for themselves. However, the fact that there are a number of motives for downloading a film that lay outside the realm of ticket purchase avoidance does puncture the claims of the studios.
It should be noted that there are two films that buck the blockbuster trend – Warhammer and Independence Day: Resurgence. Both were blasted by critics and did poor box office. It is possible that once they became available on torrent sites, people downloaded them just to see if they were as bad as everyone was saying. Think of it as the movie pirate equivalent of slowing down to sneak a peek when driving past a car wreck.