The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey was released at the end of 2012 and grossed over $1 billion at the global box office, but 8.4 million fans shunned the theatres and flocked to file-sharing sites to download the movie illegally instead.
The fantasy film, based on J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit book, proved more popular as an illegal download than Quentin Tarantino's Django Unchained, which placed second in the TorrentFreak.com poll with 8.1 million hits.
Fast and Furious 6 claimed third position with 7.9 million downloads, while the world's top-grossing film of the year, Iron Man 3, Silver Linings Playbook, Star Trek Into Darkness and The Hangover Part Iii were also among the most pirated projects of the year.
News of the TorrentFreak survey's dubious honour emerges just days after the second film in The Hobbit series, The Desolation of Smaug, scored a third week at the top of the North American box office, boosting its total domestic gross to an estimated $190.3 million (£126.87 million).