The film industry is losing an astonishing $6.1bn (£3.3bn) a year though piracy - 75 per cent more than previously thought.
This is the conclusion of a two year study by the LEK Partnership, which was commissioned by Hollywood trade body the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA).
LEK found that nearly two- thirds of the loss - around $3.8bn - was due to bootlegging and illegal copying of films and DVDs, while the rest was down to internet piracy.
In the most astonishing example of this, illegal copies of Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith appeared on the internet before the hotly anticipated movie had even had its film premiere.
LEK spent more than 18 months and $3m compiling the study, conducting interviews in 28 countries.
It said it took steps to avoid overestimating the losses by rejecting the assumption that someone who copied a film or bought a pirated DVD would have bought a full-price version instead. The study found that the worst place for piracy was the US, where $1.3bn a year is lost by the movie industry. Surprisingly, the second-worst place was Mexico, followed by Russia, Spain and China.
LEK also found that the biggest threat to revenues was not posed by professional bootleggers, but people downloading films over the internet for their own use.
The typical downloader was found to be a 16- to 24-year-old male living in an urban area. The movie industry's biggest enemy appears to be the same type of person who is costing the music industry billions each year.
Dan Glickman, chairman of the MPAA, said: "This study will help us focus our efforts to fight movie theft. As an industry, we have to continue to educate people on copyright laws and the consequences of breaking those laws."Reuse content