According to Disney CEO Bob Iger and reports from Deadline Hollywood, hackers have stolen a copy of their upcoming film Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, which wasn’t scheduled to premiere in theaters until May 26. According to Iger, the hackers are demanding a ransom be paid in Bitcoins in exchange for the return of the copy. If the ransom wasn’t paid, hackers threatened to release the movie to the public 20 minutes at a time. Sources within Disney say that they will not pay a ransom and are working with the FBI to determine who was responsible for the theft.
This isn’t entirely new, as a hacker group recently stole most of the fifth season of the web series Orange Is The New Black from Netflix, demanding a ransom from the online streaming service. Because Netflix refused to pay the ransom, the hackers eventually released the episodes to the Internet, where they became available via several torrenting sites. The FBI has also disclosed that episodes of NCIS: Los Angeles, Portlandia and New Girl have also been stolen in the past for the purpose of demanding a ransom. Of course, the first major hack of this nature occurred in 2014, when Sony’s servers were attacked. In addition to highly publicized e-mail exchanges between higher-ups in the company, several movies that hadn’t premiered in theaters, including Fury, Annie and Mr. Turner, were released onto torrenting sites. That being said, it is unclear what effect releasing movies early has on box office production, especially when it comes to an established franchise like Pirates of the Caribbean.
Other topics treated during Iger’s town hall meeting with ABC employees yesterday included a preparation for the release of Cars 3, set to premiere June 16. He also shot down a rumor that a piece of Star Wars: The Last Jedi was also stolen and being held for ransom, calling that story a hoax.