The Cost of Piracy

Watching films and TV shows have never been so easy — with just one click of a button, you are streaming the latest blockbuster film. However, that doesn’t stop people from pirating films for a variety of reasons such as not having a wide enough availability of content, nobody to steal a Netflix password from or simply to save the cost of a cinema ticket.

Since the start of the pandemic, the number of illegal downloads has soared through the roof, having gone up by 57% as a night in has been the top way to spend the evening over the majority of the last 18 months.

Techshielder analysed the most pirated films over the last year to find out how much piracy really cost Hollywood.

Godzilla vs. Kong Lost Over 3 Million Pounds To Piracy

FilmYearGenreWorldwide Box Office (£)Total Number of DownloadsTotal Loss (£)
Godzilla vs. Kong2021Sci-fi£337,460,046.34492,022£3,321,148.50
Wonder Woman 19842020Action£11,989,925.77460,056£3,105,378.00
Black Widow2021Action£249,313,152.20428,163£2,890,100.25
Tenet2020Action£261,236,947.18382,230£2,580,052.50
Mortal Kombat2021Action£60,194,157.58381,288£2,573,694.00
Jungle Cruise2021Adventure£51,262,816.03220,281£1,486,896.75
Wrath of Man2021Action£60,219,338.78206,588£1,394,469.00
The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard2021Action£46,296,775.26186,723£1,260,380.25
The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It2021Horror£142,544,131.79165,152£1,114,776.00
A Quiet Place Part II2020Horror£192,859,640.45160,127£1,080,857.25

Godzilla vs. Kong is about an epic battle of giants. However, the amount the studios of this sci-fi blockbuster lost to the film being pirated is of even greater scale. With 492,022 illegal downloads and an average cinema ticket costing £6.75, the colossal loss in revenue totals to a staggering £3,321,148.50.

Wonder Woman 1984 is a wonderful film, but not everyone interested in seeing this movie fancied paying for the screening. 460,056 digital pirates avoided the average cinema price tag of £6.75 totalling to £3,105,378.00 lost for this 2020 action classic.

The 2021 action blockbuster Black Widow featuring Scarlett Johansson is estimated to have lost £2,890,100.25 to a total of 428,163 free downloads from online pirates skipping the average screening fee of £6.75.

The actress is currently suing Disney over the fact they aired Black Widow not just on the silver screen but also on their streaming platform (Disney+) too, meaning less revenue from cinemas. The famous actress feels she too lost out to the film being streamed online and is asking for a bigger cut of the early access profits.

However, stars like Scarlett Johansson are not the only ones seeing changing to at home releases. The whole film industry is seeing the effect as well, as Hollywood movies are uploaded to piracy sites only hours after their essential release.

The change in film distribution with the introduction of same-day streaming releases means millions of people at home are watching Hollywood’s top films sooner than ever before. This threatens studios and streaming services revenue as it damages the potential cinema tickets sales and subscriber growth. 

Black Widow’s 67% second-weekend box office drop is believed to have been affected by these new piracy tactics and is one of the reasons the film has made the number three spot in the ranking.

Action Films Lost Most Money To Piracy Out Of All Genres

Action films appear to be a big hit amongst online pirates, as this is the genre that has seen the biggest number of illegal downloads tied with the biggest amount of money lost; a whopping total of 3,102,027 downloads led to £20,938,682.25 lost which is by far the highest toll in our ranking.

Following in second place is the adventure genre, which lost £1,732,644.00 by the 256,688 pirated copies of films. However, with a revenue of £183,728,020.24 studios will continue to thrive.

With £301,202,165.88 in revenue, comedy is one of the best-earning genres, despite the £1,773,589.50 lost as a result of 262,754 downloads.

All genres combined saw an astonishing box office revenue of £3,487,519,185.93 since the films were released in 2020 and 2021, alongside 6,146,617 illegal downloads of various films which caused the loss of an additional £41,489,664.75 in earnings.

F9: The Fast Saga Saw Highest Box Office Earnings Despite Illegal Downloads

MovieYear GenreWorldwide Box Office (£)Total Number of DownloadsTotal Loss (£)
F9: The Fast Saga2021Action£464,211,288.80102,636£692,793.00
Demon Slayer: Mugen Train2019Fantasy£345,162,648.4159,720£403,110.00
Godzilla vs. Kong2021Sci-fi£337,460,046.34492,022£3,321,148.50
Tenet2020Action£261,236,947.18382,230£2,580,052.50
Black Widow2021Action£249,313,152.20428,163£2,890,100.25
A Quiet Place Part II2020Horror£192,859,640.45160,127£1,080,857.25
Cruella2021Comedy£163,139,985.44124,714£841,819.50
The Croods: A New Age2020Family£148,886,708.82105,957£715,209.75
The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It2021Horror£142,544,131.79165,152£1,114,776.00
Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway2021Adventure£107,597,212.6717,212£116,181.00

It may be due to Vin Diesel’s charms or the fact that Fast & Furious has had a cult following for two decades now, as despite the increasing threat of digital piracy with a colossal loss for the film industry as a consequence, the latest film F9: The Fast Saga earned £464,211,288.80 since its release in May of this year. 

Whilst the blockbuster is still to be seen on the silver screen in recently reopened cinemas, the film has already been pirated 102,636 times piling up to a loss of £692,793.00.

Demon Slayer: Mugen Train, released in 2019, saw £345,162,648.41 in box office revenue despite fewer cinema tickets sold due to the pandemic. However, the film was still downloaded illegally 59,720 times causing a loss of £403,110.00 for the studio.

Despite the fact Godzilla vs. Kong saw the biggest amount of money lost to piracy, it still had a whopping revenue of £337,460,046.34 regardless of the 492,022 illegal downloads that left them at a loss of £3,321,148.50. 

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Wanting to watch a film or show from the comfort of our own sofa’s has never been more popular, and the technology to illegally obtain content for free has never been more available.


Whilst governments and studios try to keep up with technology that’s advancing at a rapid speed in an attempt to curb illegal downloads, with advanced tools such as VPN’s and proxy servers, this fight will likely remain a never ending battle.