As if the endless tabloid drama surrounding star Johnny Depp wasn’t bad enough, a crew of hackers have movie-napped Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, according to reports that surfaced Monday.
The sinister techno-thieves have threatened to release the film online before its slated May 26th arrival in U.S. theaters unless Disney forks over a hefty ransom in bitcoin.
Apparently bitcoin has useful illegal purposes aside from buying drugs through the mail. Who could’ve guessed?
Deadline reports that CEO Bob Iger called a company-wide meeting to break the news to his New York staff on Monday. He initially neglected to specify which of Disney’s upcoming would-be blockbusters was being held hostage. But it was soon determined that, ironically, real world cyber pirates successfully pilfered a film about imaginary pirates.
This situation arises shortly after a similar fate befell Netflix when hackers gobbled up and distributed the fifth season of Orange Is The New Black before it dropped on the streaming service.
For the time being, Disney’s flatly refused to play ball with the robbers, who say they’ll leak small parts the new Pirates one at a time until they get their pile of bitbucks. The studio has reportedly already sank $320 million into the fifth Pirates flick, so The Mouse isn’t really in a position to leave any box office receipts on the table. But that said, nobody really knows yet if leaking a movie online significantly harms its bottom line.
A reformed hacker who spoke to Deadline didn’t sound optimistic that the FBI can capture the hackers before May 26.
“They are aware of techniques to track them down,” he said. “So you could have an Egyptian hacker who uses Russian software [which makes] it looks like it’s Russian, but is actually from Egypt.”
The digital burglar-turned-informant went on to say he’s more concerned about small, independent studios who can’t afford the security measures available to the Disneys and Netflixes of the world.
The situation’s gotta be a bummer for Johnny Depp — who’s embarked on a kind of adorable damage control tour to make everyone forget about allegations that he’s a terrible husband with no idea how money works and go see his magical adventure movie. In a downright spooky coincidence, news broke mere days ago that the legendary yet beleaguered actor plans to play the notoriously insane architect of McAfee anti-virus software John McAfee in an upcoming project.