ATLANTA - Hackers claim to have stolen the upcoming Disney release Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales and are demanding money from the studio.
According to reports from The Hollywood Reporter and Deadline, the hackers are demanding a large sum of money from Disney to be paid in Bitcoin, and have threatened to release the movie in parts if their demands are not met.
Disney CEO Bob Iger said at a company town hall meeting in New York on Monday that hackers claimed to have access to a Disney movie, but did not immediately disclose the name of the film. Disney's upcoming slate of releases include the fifth Pirates of the Caribbean film, opening Friday, and Cars 3, which debuts June 16.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, online rumors last week suggested a work print of Star Wars: The Last Jedi had been pirated and was being held for ransom, but days later additional online chatter debunked the rumors as a hoax. The Star Wars film is set for a mid-December release.
Disney is working with the FBI and does not plan to pay the ransom. The hackers have threatened to initially release the first five minutes of the movie, followed by 20-minute chunks of the film until their demands are met.
The ransom demand comes less than a month after hackers claimed to have stolen the new season of the Netflix series Orange is the New Black, while demanding money from the streaming service to keep it offline before the planned release date of June 9. When Netflix did not capitulate to the demands, the hackers released 10 of the season's 13 episodes on the torrent website The Pirate Bay.
The hackers behind the Netflix hack claim to have access to shows from other television networks, including ABC, Fox, IFC and National Geographic, and suggest they plan to similarly release content from those sources in the future.
The Hollywood Reporter said in late 2016, a hacker's group breached the digital network of a large television post-production facility in Los Angeles and obtained a significant number of unaired television programs, including Orange is the New Black, NCIS: Los Angeles, New Girl, Portlandia and others.
Deadline says the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise has pulled down more than $3.72 billion in box office sales globally since its launch in 2003, which shows how much money would-be hackers are looking at when attempting to ransom releases. At this point, it is not clear what type of financial damage an early release would do to the film's bottom line.
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