TamilRockers, a film piracy website, is in the news again! Its latest victims are Friday, 19th July releases: Disney’s The Lion King, Tamil movie Kadaram Kondan and Telugu action-romance iSmart Shankar. The Lion King was the biggest release of the weekend. It features the voices of James Earl Jones, Donald Glover, Seth Rogen, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Alfre Woodard, Billy Eichner, John Kani, John Oliver and Beyoncé Knowles-Carter. It is the live action remake of Disney’s 1994 animated film The Lion King. In the remake, the film’s characters and natural/jungle environments have been recreated in high-definition 3D to replace the 2D hand-drawn style of the original.
Directed by Jon Favreau, the film received criticism from critics after its world premiere (with a 56 percent score on Rotten Tomatoes) but it has been praised by the audience for its visuals, music and A-list voice cast, and has minted $180 million on its opening weekend in North America, outperforming pre-release forecasts. The $78.5 million gross figure on Friday (19th July) was Walt Disney's biggest single-day gross ever, even accounting for inflation. It is also the second-biggest single-day July gross behind Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part II, which earned $92 million on its opening day in 2011.
TamilRockers leaked The Lion King within a few hours of its release. Apart from uploading the biggest release of the week, the notorious piracy website has also leaked Kadaram Kondan, a Tamil action thriller, produced by Kamal Haasan and directed by Rajesh Selva, starring Chiyaa Vikram and Akshara Haasan in the lead roles. The film, which opened to positive reviews and a decent start (earning approximately INK 7 lakhs from Chennai theatres), joins the list of other major South Indian films, such as K13, Petta, Viswasam, Vanathaan Rajavathaan Varuven and Kanchana 3, which were also made available for illegal streaming and download by TamilRockers, a few hours after their release.
Another leak during the weekend was of Puri Jagannadh's highly-anticipated action directorial, Telugu film iSmart Shankar. Starring Ram Pothineni, Nidhhi Agerwal and Nabha Natesh, the film has managed to collect INR 25 crore worldwide over its opening weekend. Despite its illegal release over the internet, the film is expected to earn back its investments within three days, according to a Telugu entertainment website.
The piracy website, Tamilrockers has had a notorious record of targetting every big Indian film which is going to make it big at the box office. Not only India films, but big Hollywood blockbusters like Spider-Man: Far From Home, MIB: International, Avengers: Endgame, Oh Baby and more became a target for the Tamil Rockers. In the Hindi film genre, Kabir Singh, Super 30 and Article 15 have been a part of their film kitty to have been targetted.
The website, which was launched in 2011, uploads latest films (by recording them in local theatres) and music albums, without the required permits, and has contributed to growing concerns regarding online piracy in India. Previously, members of the Film Federation of India (FFI) have also requested the Indian government to pay more attention to such websites, adding to the menace of film piracy. Although the site is on the radar of authorities and keeps getting suspended, it becomes live again with a new URL and works through proxy servers, which makes it difficult to block the website for good.
Delhi Court earlier had ordered for these piracy websites to be blocked, but unfortunately, Tamilrockers still continue to create chaos for filmmakers. The website is able to continuously leak films online by perpetually changing its domain extension and can also be accessed through proxy servers.
The site’s visitors can be seen exchanging the latest URLs on Twitter via links and images. A social media account called TamilRockers Official also announces the new releases via the page. Torrent files, magnet links and peer-to-peer file sharing enables users to download or access the copyrighted content. Due to its popularity and quick leaks of blockbuster movies, the website earns between US$1,500-3,000 per month, according to some reports. It contains a large number of titles, ranging from Hindi, English, Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam and films in other languages. It also shares Hollywood and Bollywood movies which have been dubbed in regional languages.