COMPANY TOWN

Sony Pictures CEO Michael Lynton to staff: Hackers 'won't take us down'

Sony Pictures CEO to staff: 'You should not be worried about the future of this studio'

The top executives from Sony Pictures Entertainment, still reeling from a cyberattack that crippled the studio three weeks ago, assured employees Monday that the company would survive. 

"This won't take us down," Michael Lynton, the studio's chief executive and chairman, said in remarks at an all-staff meeting at the studio lot in Culver City, according to a person in attendance. "You should not be worried about the future of this studio." 

Sony staffers met in two groups on the company's lot Monday afternoon for about 20 minutes each. 

The studio's co-chairman, Amy Pascal, spoke first, taking time to apologize for insensitive remarks she made in emails that were unleashed on the Web in the wake of the cyberattack. She also commended employees for persevering through the difficult situation.

"It is your incredible efforts and perseverence that will get us through this," she said.  

Following the attack, which was made public Nov. 24, the hackers, calling themselves Guardians of Peace, released troves of internal documents containing information that included employees' Social Security numbers and executives' salaries. The breach is expected to cost Sony tens of millions of dollars in computer security upgrades and measures to control the damage. 

Federal investigators suspect that North Korea may be behind the attack. The country has condemned Sony's upcoming Seth Rogen-James Franco comedy "The Interview," which depicts a fictionalized assassination attempt on dictator Kim Jong Un

Lynton, who spoke for about 10 minutes at each meeting, told staffers that those who planned the attacks on "innocent people" are criminals. "I am incredibly sorry that you've had to go through this," he said.  

Last week, the Federal Bureau of Investigation held "cybersecurity awareness briefings" with Sony Pictures employees. 

Some of the information and correspondences to come out of the breach have embarrassed top Sony Pictures executives and other major movie industry figures.

Emails included in the data revealed nasty exchanges between executives and producers, including swipes at actors including Kevin Hart and Angelina Jolie.

In one series of emails, Pascal joked with producer Scott Rudin over whether President Obama prefers black-focused movies such as "The Butler," "Django Unchained" and "Think Like a Man." Pascal and Rudin have both apologized.

On Sunday, Sony asked media outlets to stop publishing the company's emails and other documents. Lawyer David Boies, writing on Sony's behalf to the Los Angeles Times and other news outlets, described the leaked material as "stolen information" and called on media organizations to destroy the documents in their possession.

The Times stood by its coverage. "The data breach involving Sony Pictures has resulted in the release of information about the movie industry that is newsworthy," Times editor Davan Maharaj said Sunday. "We have reported on this material in a manner consistent with our editorial standards, and we will continue to do so."

Follow Ryan Faughnder on Twitter for more entertainment business coverage: @rfaughnder

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