Disney CEO Bob Iger today announced that the ransom the company received claiming that a hacker had stolen a prominent, upcoming film was, in fact, a hoax. News broke last month that Disney had received a ransom claiming that the film would be released online in incremental chunks if the company did not pay out a massive sum. Iger was the original source of that report, but it seems now that the whole ransom was very likely a hoax.
“To our knowledge we were not hacked,” Iger said in an interview with Yahoo Finance. “We had a threat of a hack of a movie being stolen. We decided to take it seriously but not react in the manner in which the person who was threatening us had required.”
Iger never confirmed which film had purportedly been stolen, but the timing of the ransom letter compared to Disney’s movie release schedule led many to believe that the film was Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, the fifth entry in the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise. Cars 3 was another possibility, but that film’s release date was too distant for the ransom to have any teeth.
Iger went on to reiterate that he did not believe the hacking claim was real, noting that none of the repercussions outlined in the ransom statement had come to pass. The alleged hackers claimed that the film would be released online in five minute increments at first, then in 20 minute chunks, if the unspecified demanded amount was not paid out by Disney using the cryptocurrency Bitcoin. Upon receiving the threat, Disney immediately partnered with federal authorities to track down the hackers.
Disney and Iger had legitimate cause to take the ransom threat seriously. In April, a hacking collective called TheDarkOverlord released online 10 episodes of Orange is the New Black, one of the Netflix’s marque ensemble television shows. The episodes were uploaded to the torrent website Pirate Bay in their entirety.
Debuting in theaters on May 26, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales is a production of Walt Disney Pictures directed by Joachim Ronning and Espen Sandberg starring Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow, Javier Bardem as Captain Armando Salazar, Brenton Thwaites as Henry Turner, Kaya Scodelario as Carina Smyth, Kevin McNally as Joshamee Gibbs and Geoffrey Rush as Captain Hector Barbossa.