Online pirates claim to hold Disney's latest 'Pirates of the Caribbean' movie hostage, demand ransom

Hackers have once again struck at Hollywood, this time claiming one of the summer’s biggest blockbuster releases — Disney’s “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales,” the fifth installment in the highly profitable swashbuckling franchise, starring Johnny Depp.

Walt Disney Co. Chief Executive Bob Iger told ABC employees in New York on Monday that hackers have claimed to have stolen a movie and are threatening to release it in segments until their demands, which include a pirate-like ransom paid with Bitcoin, are met.

Iger didn’t identify the movie, and the Burbank-based Disney declined to comment. But a person with knowledge of the situation who was not authorized to comment said the movie that was hacked was the new “Pirates of the Caribbean” sequel.

“Pirates” is set to open nationwide on May 26. The last four installments in the franchise have been huge successes for Disney, collectively grossing nearly $3.73 billion worldwide.

The theft comes a few weeks after hackers stole the latest season of Netflix’s “Orange is the New Black.” Hackers leaked episodes of the new season after Netflix refused to meet their demands.

Disney is currently working with federal authorities to investigate the attack, according to another source not authorized to speak to the media.

News of the “Pirates” hack was earlier reported by the Hollywood Reporter and Deadline.

The hack is believed to be unrelated to a massive ransomware attack that has spread across the globe. Ransom-style computer attacks have grown in popularity in the last few years as banks and other institutions make it harder for hackers to infiltrate their systems.

Hacking isn’t a new problem in Hollywood but recent cyberattacks have proved to be damaging. The 2014 Sony Pictures Entertainment hack was devastating to the Culver City-based studio, revealing email communications of the company’s top executives.

Hollywood talent agencies also face regular cyberattacks. Last month, hackers targeted United Talent Agency, causing widespread email problems throughout the company.

david.ng@latimes.com

@DavidNgLAT

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UPDATES:

6:27 p.m.: This article was updated with additional details, including a federal investigation into the hack.

Times staff writer Richard Winton contributed to this report.

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