Disney chief Bob Iger has revealed the company is being held for ransom by hackers threatening to leak an unreleased movie.
Mr Iger said on Monday the hackers demanded a “huge sum” to be paid in Bitcoin, or they will release parts of the movie, minutes at a time, until the money comes through.
According to the Hollywood Reporter, Disney has refused to pay the ransom and is working with federal agents to monitor any online leak.
Although it is unclear which movie has been stolen, Deadline has quoted unnamed sources saying it could be the next instalment of the Pirates Of The Caribbean franchise, Dead Men Tell No Tales.
The movie, which stars Johnny Depp and Javier Bardem, is set to open on 26 May in the UK.
On Twitter, film writers and journalists have speculated it could be Pixar’s Cars 3, which is set to premiere in June, or the next Star Wars movie The Last Jedi, with a release date set for December.
“If it were Last Jedi, he would pay in a heartbeat. But Pirates… meh,” Ryan Parker, from the Hollywood Reporter, wrote on Twitter.
While the Pirates franchise is one of Disney’s most lucrative, with a gross of $ 3.7bn since the first one premiered, it bears no comparison to the threat of a leaked Star wars movie.
The Force Awakens alone scored over $ 2bn worldwide, with The Last Jedi expected to beat its predecessor.
Many have speculated that Pirates is unlikely to have been stolen, due to the proximity of its release date and the lack of star power.
“The kinds of people who are willing to pay money to see Johnny Depp stumble his way through a fifth Pirates of the Caribbean movie in theatres are probably not the type to download a stolen copy of it right before it comes out,” said novelist Paul Tassi in an interview with Forbes magazine.
The ransom demand comes just weeks after a cyberattack on Netflix.
When the streaming giant refused to pay the ransom, 10 episodes of Orange is the New Black were leaked on to website Pirate Bay ahead of the series’ release.
These latest attacks on the film and TV industry are part of a string of cybercrimes hitting industries from financial services and telecommunications to the NHS.
More than 200,000 computers in 150 countries were hit by ransomware last weekend.