Mon, Dec 01, 2014 - Page 7 News List

Sony movies ‘Fury’ and ‘Annie’ said to be stolen in suspected cyberattack


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

The recent film 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.

File-sharing news Web site TorrentFreak said Fury was the second-most-downloaded film at one site.

Vast libraries of films and TV shows are the primary assets of studios such as Culver City, California-based Sony Pictures Studios. Online theft, along with pirating of DVDs, is estimated to cost the industry billions of US dollars annually in lost ticket sales or retail purchases.

The suspected hacking incident at Sony Pictures Entertainment apparently began when a picture of a skull appeared on company computer screens, media outlets reported. 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 were not met, they added.

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

Some systems at the entertainment division of Tokyo-based Sony have been brought back online, the person said. E-mail 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 might involve North Korea, the person said.

Web site Re/code said on Friday 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 on Dec. 25, stars 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 nation, with a North Korean Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade spokesman saying in state media outlets that the release would be an “act of war,” the BBC reported.

The remake of the 1982 film Annie is to be Sony’s next big film release, scheduled to debut 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 does not often use pirated content, the person said. predicts that Annie will generate US$100 million for its run in US and Canadian cinemas. Films frequently generate 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 Web site

Last week’s suspected cyberattack is not the first for a Sony subsidiary.

In 2011, Sony’s online entertainment service was reportedly targeted by hackers who gained access to information on millions of customers. The company was criticized by US legislators after the incident.

In a statement earlier in the 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.

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