Next week is the big premiere of the latest “Pirates Of The Caribbean” film, “Dead Men Tell No Tales." Teasers and trailers have managed to generate a lot of attention from its spate of returning stars reprising characters not seen since the third movie.

In addition, the high-profile cameo of former Beatle Paul McCartney has also gotten attention due to its similarity to the minor role of fellow rocker Keith Richards, who appeared in two previous films as the father of Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp).

Everything seemed to be set for May 26 until unidentified cyber-hackers announced that they allegedly obtained a digital copy of the film and are extorting Disney so as not to release it to the internet.

Strange ransom

The news was reported by Disney CEO Bob Iger on Monday, May 15. Speaking to ABC employees in New York, he revealed that anonymous digital pirates have claimed to the company that they have restricted digital access to an upcoming Disney film.

It was later specified by an inside source that the movie in question was “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales." The hackers said that they will release the first five minutes of the film online and wouldfollow with 20-minute segments over set time intervals unless Disney paid them off.

The suspects stipulated that their ransom demand be paid in digital currency BitCoin. Such a method would mean that an electronic transfer would not be so easy to trace. Iger stated that Disney will not negotiate with the hackers over their alleged theft of “Dead Men Tell No Tales” and that the FBI is already carrying out an investigation.

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Not so new

The stunt of digitally hacking into studio databases for digital copies of media to be held for ransom is not exactly new. Before the Disney situation, online pirates leaked Lionsgate Films’ “Expendables 3” to the internet and the ensuing flood of non-ticket paying viewers was a contributing factor to its box office failure.

More recently, another group of hackers claimed to have pirated the latest season of Netflix series “Orange is the New Black." They had asked for ransom, and when Netflix refused it was alleged that episodes were uploaded to the illegal file-share site “The Pirate Bay”.

Pirates of the Caribbean” has been one of Disney’s most prominent moneymaking franchises. Its past four films grossed $3.73 billion between them worldwide. “Dead Men Tell No Tales” is expected to contribute much to these earnings if the cyber-hackers can be foiled before they spoil it online.