Sony seeks to delay earnings over ‘The Interview’ cyberattack
SONY said Friday it was asking Japanese regulators for permission to delay the release of its earnings next month after a cyberattack at its Hollywood film unit compromised “a large amount of data” in its systems.
The Japanese firm said its US-based Sony Pictures Entertainment (SPE) subsidiary will not have time to put together its financial statements after the attack, linked to its controversial North Korea satire “The Interview,” which has been widely blamed on Pyongyang.
The Tokyo-based firm, which was due to publish its earnings for the fiscal third quarter on February 4, said the hack attack was unlikely to have a material impact on its financial results.
It now wants to extend the deadline to release its earnings until the end of March.
Sony said it still planned to issue a press release and hold an earnings conference on the originally scheduled date “so as to provide investors, shareholders, analysts, media and other stakeholders with updated forecasts of Sony’s… results”.
“The Interview” was scheduled for a Christmas Day release before Sony became the target of the biggest cyberattack in US corporate history.
Threats made by hackers prompted Sony to initially cancel its theatrical release. It was eventually screened in select arthouse cinemas, and released on the Internet and via cable TV providers.
Washington has blamed North Korea for the hack on Sony — a claim Pyongyang has denied while still strongly condemning the film, which features a fictional plot to assassinate leader Kim Jong-un.
“The Interview,” which had a $44 million budget, has since become Sony’s highest-grossing online film ever, reportedly making more than $40 million on the Internet and other small-screen formats.
The cyberattack caused “a serious disruption of SPE’s network systems… including the destruction of network hardware and the compromise of a large amount of data,” Sony said, adding that it was forced to shut down its entire network after the hack.
It affected most of the subsidiary’s “financial and accounting applications and many other critical information technology applications,” which will not be functional until early February, it added.
The company said its film unit has since “worked aggressively” to restore those systems.