Hackers shut down the computer systems at Sony Pictures last week, bringing operations there to a standstill. Now, the second phase of that attack has gone into effect: Five stolen films have been uploaded online and are spreading like wildfire.
One of those is the Brad Pitt war movie "Fury," which is still playing in theaters. As of Monday, it was reportedly the No. 2 downloaded movie at The Pirate Bay, a website where people can access links to movie and music files.
The upcoming movie "Annie" was also leaked in the attack, throwing cold water on Sony's (SNE) hopes for a big holiday splash for the film. Several box-office sites have predicted that "Annie" would bring in $95 million to $125 million in ticket sales over its theatrical run.
Three other films are also being illegally shared online, according to reports. They include "Still Alice," a drama starring Julianne Moore; "Mr. Turner," a British film about the painter J.M.W. Turner; and "To Write Love on Her Arms," a drama about a teen's battle with drugs and depression. Sony Pictures is calling the theft a "criminal matter" and is working with law enforcement, Bloomberg reports.
A hacker group known as Guardians of Peace is claiming responsibility for the attack, which reportedly froze Sony's computer and phone systems over two days last week. "We are down, completely paralyzed," one employee told Deadline.com.
The attack is raising concerns that hackers might be working on behalf of North Korea, which is incensed over Sony's planned release next month of "The Interview," a comedy about two journalists tasked with assassinating Kim Jong Un. North Korea called the film insulting in a June letter to the U.N.
"To allow the production and distribution of such a film on the assassination of an incumbent head of a sovereign state should be regarded as the most undisguised sponsoring of terrorism as well as an act of war," the country said in its letter.
When asked by Reuters about whether his country was responsible for the breach, a spokesman for North Korea's U.N. mission responded, "I kindly advise you to just wait and see."