Arts & Leisure

Sony films ‘Fury’ and ‘Annie’ said stolen in studio cyberattack

Posted on November 30, 2014 05:22:28 AM | BREAKING NEWS

Sony Corp.’s film and TV studio may have had several films stolen in a Nov. 25 cyberattack that continues to cripple its computer systems, according to a person with knowledge of the matter.

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 person, who sought anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the matter. The website TorrentFreak, a news site on file-sharing, said “Fury” was the second-most-downloaded film at one site.

Vast libraries of films and TV shows are the main assets of studios such as Culver City, California-based Sony. Online theft, along with pirating of DVDs, costs the industry billions of dollars annually in lost ticket sales or retail purchases.

The hacking incident at Sony Pictures Entertainment 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, believe to stand for “Guardians of Peace,” and that private data would be released if undisclosed demands weren’t met.

The attack has forced some employees to communicate via text message and private e-mail accounts.

Some systems at the entertainment division of Tokyo-based Sony have been brought back online, according to the person. E- mail and some other systems remain down. The studio’s home entertainment division was able to fulfill Black Friday orders, the person added.

Source of Attack

Sony is continuing to investigate the breach, including the possibility it may involve North Korea, the person said. The website Re/code said yesterday 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 saying 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 Quvenzhané 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 predicts “Annie” will generate $100 million for its run in U.S. and Canadian cinemas. Films frequently do much more in overseas markets.

‘Mr. Turner’

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

This 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.

In a statement earlier this week, Sony said it was investigating “an IT matter.” The group believed to be behind the attack is threatening further releases of data, the person confirmed. -- Bloomberg