Tracking agency Excipio reports more people watched pirated films in 2015, with Fast & Furious 7 in second place on Hollywood’s least favourite chart...

Christopher Nolan’s space adventure Interstellar has been named the most pirated movie of 2015, with 46m illegal downloads, putting it at the head of a chart no Hollywood studio wants to top.

According to figures from piracy tracking firm Excipio, the 2014 release was just ahead of action sequel Fast & Furious 7, with 44m downloads and superhero sequel Avengers: Age of Ultron, with 41m downloads.

Other films to make the top five include the year’s biggest blockbuster, Jurassic World, in fourth place with 36.8m downloads, and Mad Max: Fury Road, in fifth place with 36.4m downloads.

The most concerning factor for the film industry may be that overall downloads appear to have increased in 2015. Last year’s list-topper, The Wolf of Wall Street, was downloaded 30m times, an increase of more than 50%.

The news of the year’s most-pirated movies broke as reports emerged that five people from the West Midlands, who were sentenced this month for masterminding a £5m piracy operation, were caught through their Facebook accounts.

Sahil Rafiq, Reece Baker, Graeme Reid, Ben Cooper, and Scott Hemming received sentences ranging from three-and-a-half to four-and-a-half years on 18 December.

The website Torrent Freak has published papers from the case against them by the Hollywood-backed anti-piracy group the Federation Against Copyright Theft, detailing the lengths investigators went to in order to track down the pirates.

Rafiq was identified after posting on a forum belonging to online retailer PC Specialist.
The pirate posted under a user name that investigators had linked to the torrent release group 26K and signed it with his full name.

Investigators then tracked him down via Facebook, where Rafiq had listed his work address in Wolverhampton, and credit reporting agency Equifax, which revealed his home address.

He pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud and received a sentence of four years and six months.

Film piracy was in the news again last week after an awards-season DVD screener of Quentin Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight, which had been sent to a leading Hollywood studio executive, turned up on illegal download sites.

The pirated version bears a digital watermark that identifies it as a DVD sent to Andrew Kosove, co-CEO of Alcon Entertainment, according to the Hollywood Reporter. Kosove has denied knowledge of the leak.

Most pirated movies of 2015

1. Interstellar – 46,762,310 downloads

2. Fast & Furious 7 – 44,794,877

3. Avengers: Age of Ultron – 41,594,159

4. Jurassic World – 36,881,763

5. Mad Max: Fury Road – 36,443,244

6. American Sniper – 33,953,737

7. Fifty Shades of Grey – 32,126,827

8. The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies – 31,574,872

9. Terminator: Genisys – 31,001,480

10. Kingsman: The Secret Service – 30,922,987

11. Focus – 26,792,863

12. San Andreas – 25,883,469

13. Minions – 23,495,140

14. Inside Out – 22,734,070