Roughly two weeks ago, eerily adept cybercriminals hacked into Sony's computer systems, paralysed their operations, and tapped into a trove of hypersensitive, internal information. Since that initial attack, a steady flow of revelations — including top employees' salaries, nasty Hollywood hardball emails, and illicit movie downloads — has trickled into news reports and file-sharing sites. Sony is working with multiple authorities to pinpoint who the hackers are. But for now, the relentless hackers, dubbed Guardians of Peace, have made it clear that they're not done tormenting the company — and won't stop until Sony meets their demands. The attackers have also gone as far as threatening the families of Sony employees. Here's a list — to be updated — of everything revealed by the hacks so far.
Watermarked Screeners and Forthcoming Films
Soon after Sony's systems went down, awards-season screeners of Fury, Annie, Still Alice, and Mr. Turner, as well as a cut of the 2015 film To Write Love on Her Arms, were disseminated on illegal file-sharing sites. The films immediately became early Christmas presents for piracy-site frequenters. According to this report, Fury was downloaded more than 1 million times one day after the leaks.
Trying to find some optimism amid the piracy muck, Sony told Deadline a few days after the first leaks that its computer systems were copacetic and that it was working out a deal to create a narrative feature of Tiller Russell's The Seven Five, essentially the corrupt-cop version of Goodfellas. The site also reported that Sony's social accounts — for the company and its compromised movies — surged with new subscribers. The official Sony page grabbed 1.6 million likes on Thanksgiving Day.
The $1 Million Club
Fusion sifted through the compromised internal documents and discovered an eye-opening annual rate chasm: Of the studio's 17 seven-figure U.S. earners, nearly all are white and only one of them is a woman. The data dump also included the compensation plans and personal information of more than 6,000 other Sony employees (later including Princess Beatrice of York, who earns $30,300 as an intermediate coordinating producer), as well as cheesy scripts for HR's in-house recruiting videos. Sony confirmed the veracity of the compromised assets soon after.
James Franco and Seth Rogen's Payday
Adding to a breach that exposed salaries at Deloitte Touche and a top Sony exec's credit card number, the hackers also released The Interview's budget. According to the documents, it took roughly $44 million to make the movie, with Seth Rogen receiving $8.4 million-plus and James Franco $6.5 million. The documents also catalogued the compensation rates and social security numbers for other celebrities tied to the studio, including Sylvester Stallone and Judd Apatow.
A Problem With Adam Sandler Movies
Gawker sorted through a text file called "Sony_2012_Comments" and learned that people at the studio don't like that they make so many Adam Sandler movies. (Since 2008, Sony has released six.) "There is a general 'blah-ness' to the films we produce," complained one employee. "Althought [sic] we manage to produce an innovative film once in awhile, Social Network, Moneyball, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, we continue to be saddled with the mundane, formulaic Adam Sandler films."
Don't Forget About TV
Reporters at Mashable reviewed a number of documents, too — some having to do with Sony's television arm. They found that Sony's three-year Seinfeld syndication deal for local affiliate stations will earn the company at least $18.5 million. Pilot scripts for the 2014 TV season were also leaked — one of the juiciest was for Vince Gilligan's Battle Creek.
Among the thousands of documents floating around, THR found top-secret letters that note details about production spending and ultimate profitability on some of last year's films. A slew of projects, including This Is the End ($50 million), Grown Ups 2 ($48 million), Captain Phillips ($39 million), and American Hustle ($27 million), will end up in profit, among others.
Fusion was able to track down a folder labeled "publicity bibles," which included cast and crew contact directories for recently released Sony films. The files blew the cover on the secret aliases some of the studio's movie stars use to do normal-people things. Fusion shared the alter egos of Tom Hanks ("Harry Lauder," "Johnny Madrid"), Jessica Alba ("Cash Money"), and Natalie Portman ("Lauren Brown"), among others.
For the first few weeks, it was unknown what the hackers wanted from Sony. Mashable, however, tracked down an extortion email sent to top studio execs three days before the attack. It reads:
We've got great damage by Sony Pictures.
The compensation for it, monetary compensation we want.
Pay the damage, or Sony Pictures will be bombarded as a whole.
You know us very well.
We never wait long.
You'd better behave wisely.
As Mashable pointed out, it has not been possible to confirm that the letter from God'sApstls was wholly related to the ensuing Guardians of Peace hack. This tweet/email makes things a little more confusing, but one thing is certain: Whether it's one group or several, a seemingly global force is pissed off at Sony.
The Steve Jobs Meltdown
Information about Aaron Sorkin's Steve Jobs film was released Tuesday in the form of some acerbic emails. Gawker posted a string of correspondences, between Sony Pictures co-chairman Amy Pascal and producer Scott Rudin, that purportedly details how Sony lost control of the project. The exchanges the site posted reveal almost a year's worth of incensed Hollywood hardball (including some Angelina Jolie-bashing and Michael Fassbender-penis-appreciating). Even David Fincher got in on the fun with an Adam Driver slam. Ars Technica got its hands on another portion of the exchanges that had Sorkin lobbying for Tom Cruise to try on the lead role.
More Amy Pascal emails, the details of which were revealed by The Wall Street Journal, discussed new plans for Sony's Spidey. One email reportedly referenced a Marvel-produced trilogy, and another let loose that the comics giant wanted Spider-Man in its third Captain America movie. One of the Journal's sources said that Marvel eventually pulled out and that Sony is now going forward with its own plan. A part of said plan is an animated comedy for the superhero; it would be produced by 22 Jump Street's Chris Miller and Phil Lord.
So far the hackers have released to reporters three batches of documents, which many outlets are still sifting through. Although investigators have not presently identified the culprits, the attackers reportedly worked from a hotel in Thailand. Despite speculation that North Korea could be involved and that Sony's upcoming film The Interview was the root of the problem, the country has denied involvement, and according to Variety, Sony still plans on releasing the Rogen-Franco pic in the US on Christmas Day.