Oscar Contenders Get Piracy Boost from ‘Best Picture’ Nominations

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With thirteen nominations, "Oppenheimer" has positioned itself as the top candidate to scoop up several Academy Awards in March. Interestingly, these nominations didn't move the piracy needle. That stands in sharp contrast to other Best Picture contenders such as "Poor Things" and "Anatomy of a Fall" which saw a significant piracy spike.

oscar torrentsThe Oscars are the most anticipated movie awards show of the year, as the elusive statue is widely regarded as Hollywood’s highest accolade.

The winners are selected by Academy members following extensive screening sessions. In the past, copies of advance screeners leaked en masse, creating an annual bounty hunt for online pirates.


The troubling relationship between the Oscars and pirates reached a peak in 2007 when The Pirate Bay promoted an alternative voting process. Through Oscartorrents.com, pirates could download the nominated films, review them, and vote for their favorite.

This rogue Oscars alternative taunted Hollywood by attracting over 100,000 ‘pirate’ votes and many more illegal downloads. In the end, both pirates and Academy members picked The Departed as the Best Picture, with Martin Scorsese voted the best director.

After its first award show, OscarTorrents never returned, but that doesn’t mean that pirates have lost their interest in the annual event. While Oscar screeners no longer leak online today, most contenders are already available on pirate sites.

Piracy Boost for Oscar Contenders

Looking at the download numbers for all ‘Best Picture’ contenders, we can see that the annual nominations boost is still intact. An extensive dataset of BitTorrent downloads shows that ‘smaller’ films enjoy the relatively largest piracy spikes.

“Poor Things” has a 124% increase in downloads if we compare the numbers this Tuesday and Wednesday, to the same days last week. “Anatomy of a Fall” saw a 71% spike in downloads, followed by “Maestro” and “Past Lives” respectively.

Estimated torrent downloads (Jan 15 – 24)

2024 oscars piracy

Below is an overview of all findings. This includes all Best Picture nominees except “The Zone of Interest” and “American Fiction,” which either aren’t available yet or had small download numbers.

Movie Increase (Jan 16/17 vs. 23/24)
Anatomy of a Fall 71%
Barbie 4%
The Holdovers 18%
Killers of the Flower Moon 30%
Maestro 53%
Oppenheimer 3%
Past Lives 48%
Poor Things 124%

Overall, we can see that relatively smaller films get a bigger piracy boost. For Oppenheimer and Barbie, the nomination effect is minimal and likely not statistically significant. These movies do have more downloads and streams on pirate sites overall, of course.

Pirates are People Too

This spike in interest for lesser-known films likely isn’t limited to pirate sites. The extra exposure from the Oscar nominations generally boosts interest in the films through legal channels as well. This shows that, in addition to prestige, an Oscar can also bring in revenue.

The numbers reported here once again illustrate that pirates are not dissimilar to their non-pirating counterparts. They are just as susceptible to advertising and media attention as everyone else.

With this in mind, we can confidently predict a massive piracy spike if one of the smaller films wins the Best Picture Award in March. A win for Oppenheimer, on the other hand, is not expected to move the needle much.


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