Since its record-breaking debut last week, Star Wars: The Force Awakens has been a top trending search term on torrent sites across the Internet. Until late Sunday night, that search had been fruitless, but now it appears the piracy community has come out on top, and at least one “watchable” copy of The Force Awakens is available in the wild.
Torrent search sites like Kickass Torrents and The Pirate Bay track search and torrent, and often offer a telling glimpse into the overall popularity of current theatrical releases. Having already shattered box office records, the latest entry in the Star Wars saga has also been dominating in the realm of illegal movie downloads. Both sites show The Force Awakens at the top of the popularity charts.
Compared to the speed with which the torrent community typically gets its hands on theatrical content, the days-long gap between when The Force Awakens hit theaters and the emergence of the first watchable pirated version is actually somewhat unusual. Popular new releases are often available immediately, or even before the official release date of the film.
As is often the case with Hollywood blockbusters, all of the early copies of The Force Awakens to grace the torrent scene were shot via a handheld camera—as opposed to the higher-quality versions that are usually direct copies of a DVD screener or other media. “Cam” versions of pirated films are considered to be the lowest quality available, and generally only of interest if the film is particularly sought-after. Star Wars certainly fits that criteria, and the download numbers prove it.
As with all illegal movie downloads, partaking in the forbidden fruit can put you on the receiving end of a nasty letter from your ISP, a warning from the Motion Picture Association of America, or even a lawsuit—not to mention the risk of having your broadband service account terminated and banned.
Screengrab via Star Wars/Disney