Last updated: Tuesday May 16th 12 noon PCT.
Disney is now floating in some unexpectedly dangerous waters. But this time, the pirates are virtual — and taking an entire movie hostage.
For those catching up: early this morning, a group hackers claimed to have the latest Pirates the Caribbean film in their possession. Deadline first reported the ransom threats, and Disney CEO Robert Iger has confirmed the ransom.
In response, Disney has opted against any negotiation or ransom to the hackers. Instead, reports now confirm that Disney is working with the FBI to identify and prosecute the unknown hackers.
According to the Hollywood Reporter, the hackers have threatened to release the film in bite-sized chunks. The first tasty morsel would be a five-minute monologue by Johnny Depp. Then, mini-leaks twenty-minute segments would follow. Each leak would be intensify the threat against Disney, while keeping the possibility a ransom payment open.
The hackers have demanded payment in Bitcoin.
The development coincides with the widespread ‘WannaCry’ ransomware attack, which has created disruptions across 150 countries so far.
Release ransoms are a new piracy twist, but this isn’t the first incident. Just recently, a hacker entity working under the name ‘The dark Overlord’ obtained unreleased episodes Orange Is the New Black from Netflix. In response, Netflix refused to pay, resulting in a widespread leak the episodes.
Now, it’s Disney’s turn. And just like Netflix, the entertainment heavyweight doesn’t want to set any precedents for payment. That opens the possibility a widespread leak, which could sten the impact a major weekend opening. Then again, major networks, studios, and labels have learned to live with piracy, with mixed results. In that light, it’s unclear how many people will decide not to see the movie in theaters, especially given that the film is geared towards families.
The music industry is undoubtedly watching these developments, largely with an eye towards blockbuster releases. Whether ransom threats hit mega-artists like Taylor Swift, Bruno Mars, and Ed Sheeran is anyone’s guess, though draconian enforcement measures could curb the lessen the possibility.