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‘Project X’ a popular pic among pirates

With 8.7 million copies, R-rated comedy was the top illegally downloaded film in 2012

The most pirated film of 2012 doesn’t revolve around superheroes but a group of partying teens.

Project X,” the R-rated comedy, produced by Joel Silver, was the year’s most illegally downloaded film on BitTorrent sites, according to TorrentFreak, which tracks files swapped on peer-to-peer networks.

Around 8.7 million digital copies of the Warner Bros. film were downloaded, the site said Thursday. That’s 220,000 more downloads than “Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol,” which came in second.

TorrentFreak tracks all versions of films available on BitTorrent, from digital uploads of homevids to recordings made in theaters using camcorders or other handheld devices.

“The Dark Knight Rises” (8.2 million), “The Avengers” (8.1 million) and “Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows” (7.9 million) rounded out the top five pics. “Sherlock Holmes” was released in 2011.

While younger males typically do much of the downloading on BitTorrent sites, explaining the kinds of films often pirated, family pic “Ice Age: Continental Drift” also ranked high, coming in ninth on TorrentFreak’s list with nearly 7 million downloads, followed by female-skewing “The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn — Part 1” with 6.7 million.

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“Skyfall” and “The Hunger Games” were missing from the top 10 given low-quality versions of the films available on BitTorrent sites.

Although a hit, given its $12 million budget, “Project X” was the lowest B.O. earner on the TorrentFreak’s list, with a nearly $101 million global haul. It generated $54.7 million domestically.

In May, TorrentFreak reported that 20% of the people who downloaded a pirated copy of “The Avengers” through BitTorrent days before its Stateside release were in the U.S., or around 100,000. The file, recorded with a camcorder, was downloaded around 500,000 times days after it was posted online, a week before the “Avengers” bow on May 4.

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