More than 10 days prior to the opening of the fifth installment in the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, hackers claim to have stolen a copy of the film and are allegedly threatening an online release if ransom demands aren’t met. Disney CEO Bob Iger met with ABC employees this morning to discuss the incident, but did not specify that Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales was the stolen film in question.
As detailed by Deadline, the digital pirates are demanding an “enormous” payment in bitcoin, otherwise portions of the film will be gradually released in 20-minute video files leading up to the release date on May 26. The hackers did not indicate when those leaks would begin. Iger indicated that Disney had no plans to pay the ransom and started working with the FBI in order to determine how the film was stolen.
To date, the Pirates franchise has generated more than $3.7 billion worldwide. The upcoming installment brings several of the original characters back, specifically Keira Knightly as Elizabeth Swann, Orlando Bloom as Will Turner, and Geoffrey Rush as Captain Barbossa. This film features Javier Bardem as the villainous Captain Salazar going up against Johnny Depp’s Captain Jack Sparrow. Disney is tracking a $90-million opening during Memorial Day weekend. The entire budget of the film was roughly $320 million.
Netflix recently faced a similar situation when 10 episodes of Orange is the New Black were leaked online after a hacker attempted to extort a similar ransom from the production company of the popular show. Of course, the leak didn’t necessarily hurt Netflix. The company’s streaming platform is much simpler to operate than downloading a collection of pirated video files, and Netflix’s existing customer base is unlikely to unsubscribe due to a single pirated release.