- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Disney has been asked to pay a ransom in order to prevent hackers from leaking an unreleased movie before it appears in theaters, company CEO Bob Iger said.

Mr. Ignor acknowledged the extortion attempt during a town hall with ABC employees in New York City on Monday but declined to state which movie is the subject of the ransom demands.

Entertainment website Deadline identified the film as the forthcoming Johnny Depp flick “Pirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales,” but their claim could not be immediately corroborated.

Hackers obtained a copy of the pilfered film prior to its release and threatened to distribute the movie unless paid an “an enormous amount of money,” Deadline reported.

Disney is working with the FBI and is refusing to pay the ransom, according to the website. A spokesperson for the studio declined to comment further, Bloomberg reported Tuesday.

“In our digital economy, neither the private nor public sectors are sufficiently fortified against cyberattacks,” Sen. Ben Sasse, Nebraska Republican, said Tuesday. “Digital hostage taking by these modern pirates will grow more frequent and the stakes will escalate. Government and industry should be bringing urgency to the table but few in Washington are paying attention.”

The situation befallen by Disney bears similarities with an incident last month involving an unreleased season of the Netflix series “Orange is the New Black,” the likes of which was leaked online after its producers purportedly declined to heed the ransom demands of a hacker or hackers identifying as “The Dark Overlord.”

Attempts to reach The Dark Overlord Tuesday were not immediately successful.

Disney is expected to release a handful of highly anticipated movies in 2017 including “Dead Men Tell No Tales,” the fifth installment of its billion-dollar “Pirates” franchise, currently set to open May 26.

If leaked early, previous cases suggest internet pirates could potentially ravage the film’s box-office pull: a federal court ruled last year that Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation suffered losses of over $1 million after a former studio worker stole copies of two unreleased films and uploaded them to the internet.

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