"The Dark Knight Rises"
Warner Bros. heavily promoted "The Dark Knight Rises" prior to its release. The film was poised to break box office records. Warner Brothers

Anticipation for the release of “The Dark Knight Rises" was at a fever pitch when the third installment of the Batman trilogy hit theaters this summer, but that excitement might be surpassed by the DVD/Blu-Ray release of the film. Inevitably, the movie -- starring Christian Bale and Tom Hardy -- leaked onto the Internet before hitting store shelves, and it has been one of the most popular BitTorrent files since the first installment of “The Dark Knight.”

TorrentFreak reported that “The Dark Knight Rises” was again the most illegally downloaded movie during the week ending Nov. 25, keeping the top spot for a second week in a row. The film has been at the top of the torrent charts since it leaked around the middle of the month. DVDs and Blu-Ray copies of the film will not be on sale until Dec. 4.

It’s hardly a mystery as to why “The Dark Knight Rises” is so popular among torrent users. BitTorrent users span every gender, but males have been known to illegally download movies and music at a higher frequency than women, presumably even more so with a film about Batman.

Sheer popularity is another factor. Despite a consensus that may rank “The Dark Knight Rises” behind it’s prequel, which starred Heath Ledger as The Joker, movie gatekeeper Rotten Tomatoes aggregated a 92 percent audience approval rating, just five points higher than the 87 percent afforded by critics, a notoriously fickle community. Audiences also took to IMDB to give the film an average 8.8 points out of a possible 10.

Now, if someone decides to download the “The Dark Knight Rises” via torrent, they can watch the movie on their own high-definition TV with friends without paying the likely $20 to $30 sticker price from a store like Best Buy or Amazon.

A Google search for “Download The Dark Knight Rises Torrent” returns almost 30 million results, and the numerous DMCA complaints are evidence of the copyright police trying to catch up. The movie is also available for streaming on a slew of sites.

In 2011, TorrentFreak provided a list of the most pirated movies of all time. “Avatar” was No. 1, followed by “The Dark Knight” and “Transformers.” “Inception” and “The Hangover” rounded out the top five.

It’s easy to picture “The Dark Knight Rises” usurping the field because of the current social acceptability and ease of attaining torrent files, which has grown since the list first came out. The presence of “The Dark Knight” on the list also proves it likely that the latest installment in Nolan’s franchise will take the top spot from “Avatar.”