Hollywood has long had a love/hate relationship with pirates. On the one hand, films like "Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides" continue to flourish at the box office, raking in billions of dollars from pirate enthusiasts.
But while on-screen piracy is great, studios aren't so keen on real world piracy. It's a funny thing.
We have a feeling Hollywood execs aren't laughing right now, though, because TorrentFreak has just released their list of the ten most pirated movies of all time -- and you may be surprised at just which movies top the chart.
Before we get into the goodies, it should be noted that in this case, the piracy in question is limited only to users of BitTorrent, who utilize the file sharing program to freely distribute whatever they feel like. So we're not discussing that guy who already has a bunch of oddly dubbed foreign language copies of "Sherlock Holmes 2" laid on out a blanket beside the subway entrance downtown.
And in some ways it doesn't appear as if these shady downloads have really affected business too much, as the top three films on the list -- "Avatar" (21 million downloads), "The Dark Knight" (19 million) and "Transformers" (19 million) are also three of the highest grossing films of all time.
Still, at least some of the movies that made the top ten are head-scratchers. Number seven on the list, for instance, is "Kick-Ass," which has tallied over 14 million downloads despite earning just $96 million worldwide. And "The Incredible Hulk," which also has 14 million downloads to land at number nine, barely broke even domestically.
So does this mean those films have hidden franchise potential? Has BitTorrent bogarted untold millions of dollars from Hollywood's pockets? Or does it simply mean that fans will watch pretty much any comic book movie, no matter how lame, as long as it's free? It's hard to say, but one thing is for sure: On the high seas of today's internet, piracy -- however you define it -- is alive and well. Yo ho ho.