LOS ANGELES – Sony Corp.’s film and TV studio may have had several films stolen, including two that have yet to be released, in a Tuesday cyberattack that may be linked to North Korea, a person with knowledge of the matter said.
The recent picture “Fury,” a Brad Pitt war movie, and the yet-to-be-released “Annie” and “Still Alice” have appeared on file-sharing sites, said the source, who sought anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the matter. The website TorrentFreak, a news site on file-sharing, said “Fury” was the No. 2 most-downloaded film at one site.
The hacking incident at Sony Pictures Entertainment, which continues to cripple its computer systems, began when a picture of a skull appeared on company computer screens. The image was accompanied by a message that read Sony had been hacked by #GOP, believed to stand for “Guardians of Peace,” and that private data would be released if undisclosed demands weren’t met.
Some systems at the entertainment division of Tokyo-based Sony have been brought back online, according to the source. Email and some other systems remain down. The studio’s home entertainment division was able to fulfill Black Friday orders, the person added.
Sony is continuing to investigate the breach, including the possibility it may involve North Korea, the source said. The website Re/code said Saturday that the studio was looking into whether the attack coincides with the release of “The Interview,” a comedy about a CIA plot to kill North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
The Seth Rogen film, currently being advertised for release in theaters on Dec. 25, features Rogen and James Franco as TV producers who are recruited by the CIA to assassinate Kim. Plans for the film drew a rebuke from the country, with a Foreign Ministry spokesman warning in state media that the release would be an “act of war,” according to the BBC.
The remake of the 1982 “Annie” is Sony’s next big film release, schedule to hit theaters on Dec. 19. The new version stars Quvenzhane Wallis, Cameron Diaz and Jamie Foxx.
One comfort for the studio is that the targeted audience for “Annie” doesn’t often use pirated content, the person said.
The website BoxOffice.com predicts “Annie” will generate $100 million for its run in U.S. and Canadian cinemas. Films frequently do much more in overseas markets.
Two other new films, “Mr. Turner” and “Still Alice” are considered possible Oscar contenders for their lead actors Timothy Spall and Julianne Moore, according to the website GoldDerby.com.
Last week’s cyberattack isn’t the first for Sony. In 2011, Sony’s online entertainment service was targeted by hackers who gained access to information on millions of customers. The company was criticized by U.S. lawmakers after the hacking.