The most popular film of 2023 from unlicensed audiences? We predict the most in demand.

The most popular film of 2023 from unlicensed audiences? We predict the most in demand.

As we near the end of 2023, you will see lots of charts detailing the most popular TV and film content across the year. However, is it possible to predict the most in-demand title from unlicensed sources?  MUSO’s audience demand data provides deep insights into the unlicensed ecosystem and using our proprietary measurement platform, MUSO Discover, we're going to give it a go…


piracy_by_title-title_demand_over_time (28)-2

The graph above shows the top ten most in-demand titles by piracy audiences to the end of November 2023.  

Based on the current data, Avatar: The Way of Water has the highest piracy demand to date in 2023. The film commanded 10% of the total piracy audience share in January 2023 with subsequent spikes in demand in March and June 2023, when it was released to streaming platforms. Its demand remains relatively high compared to other titles throughout the months shown which is especially poignant given that it was released in December 2022. While piracy demand isn't necessarily a direct indicator of a movie's popularity or quality, it does suggest a high level of interest.  

Also worth a mention are Puss In Boots: The Last Wish and Black Panther: Wakanda Forever as the other two movies in the top ten for 2023 that were released in 2022.  Puss In Boots: The Last Wish in particular saw very high demand from unlicensed audiences at the beginning of the year equating to that of Avatar, which is uncommon for an animated feature, consumed mainly by families.

That said, while Avatar: The Way of Water had a strong lead at the beginning of the year, other movies like "John Wick: Chapter 4", Transformers: Rise of the Beasts and Oppenheimer also showed significant spikes in demand later in the year.  While John Wick 4 was released in March, Oppenheimer was released in July and has shown the strongest relative piracy demand after Avatar, charting in 2nd place only four months after its theatrical release and outperforming its box office rival, Barbie, by a considerable margin with unlicensed audiences

So, what is likely to be the most pirated film of 2023? With just a month to go until the end of the year, it’s looking very tight!   Avatar: The Way of Water still tops the charts and is still showing strong demand from unlicensed audiences going into December. There is some considerable distance between it and John Wick 4 at position three and it would take a strong surge in demand for that title to push it above Avatar in the list.  

However, the demand for Oppenheimer remains very strong, fuelled partially by hi-quality unlicensed Bluray copies becoming available in mid November and also by its release to streaming on November 21st. This is typically when we see the largest spikes in unlicensed demand for a title as hi-res unlicensed versions become available. The title has the highest chance of challenging Avatar for the top slot, especially as audiences turn to their TV screens over the holiday season. 


Drum roll… We believe that Oppenheimer’s long run time of 3 hours will be suited for home audiences and will see significant demand over the holiday season. It will be neck and neck but we predict that Oppenheimer will just pip Avatar: The Way of Water to the title of the most in-demand film with unlicensed audiences at the end of 2023.

Insider/ Film/ Article