As they did with TV, Torrent Freak has released its annual roundup of the most pirated movies of 2011 (full list below), and guess what made the top of the list?
No, not Tyler Perry's Madea's Big Happy Family; Fast Five was number 1 with over 9 million torrent downloads worldwide.
So what does that mean for the studio that released it? How much revenue was lost there? 9 million illegal downloads adds up to a lot of pocket change, whether in ticket sales, or DVD rentals/sales.
As was the case with TV piracy numbers, the rise of movie streaming companies like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon's service, and several others, is apparently having an effect on the number of downloads, reducing them year-over-year, which suggests that entertainment companies will find it in their best interest to enter distribution partnerships with online streaming sites like the aforementioned, and to make their content available within a reasonable amount of time after their theatrical runs.
Otherwise, audiences will go look for the content elsewhere, and that often means illegal downloads.
This also applies to audiences outside the USA who often don't get these dominant, in-demand Hollywood movies days, weeks, and even months after their stateside releases.
As Torrent Freak says, the challenge for film distribution companies is to come up with a business model that allows users to consume what they want at any given time, without losing revenue in the process. Emphasis on the word "challenge," because it is one.
Below is a list of the 10 most-downloaded movies of 2011: