NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Lions Gate Entertainment (LGF) can empathize with Sony (SNE) Pictures, the studio that's still reeling from a massive cyberattack purportedly by North Korean hackers seeking revenge for its film The Interview.
The hack against Sony ripped off copies of unreleased films, including Annie, Fury and Still Alice, releasing them on file sharing sites where they could be easily pirated. Lions Gate dealt with its own jarring hack this summer, when a high-quality version of Expendables 3 leaked online three weeks before its release date.
The Expendables 3 leak cost Lions Gate more than $10 million in box office revenue, said Michael Burns, the Santa Monica-based studio's vice-chairman on Tuesday at the UBS Global Media and Communications Conference. Both the Expendables 3 leak and the Sony hack have put Lions Gate on high alert for future cyber-attacks, he said.
"It's a concern," Burns said. "It's something we pay attention to every day."
Lions Gate was able breathe a collective sigh of relief when the release of Mockingjay-- Part I, the first half of the third installment in The Hunger Games franchise, didn't suffer a similar hack prior to its Nov. 21 debut.
"Like banks, credit card companies and retailers, entertainment companies have been forced to place particular attention on cyber security," Burns said. "As fast as you're coming up with defenses, there's some guy in a garage, maybe in some faraway place, writing code to try to get around that firewall."
In the case of Sony, that hacker, or hackers, may have been working out of a building in or around Pyongyang, the capital of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. North Korea subsequently denied it was responsible for the Sony hack.
Lions Gate's follow-up to the summer cyberattack is ongoing. Two weeks ago, anti-piracy police in the U.K. arrested two men suspected of leaking Expendables 3. The men, who were ages 36 and 33, were arrested in their homes in Upton, Wirral, and Dewsbury, West Yorkshire, the BBC reported.
Burns was tight-lipped on the leak investigation."We think we have a pretty good understanding of where it happened," he said. "People will pay for it."
-- Written by Antonia Massa in New York
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This article is commentary by an independent contributor. At the time of publication, the author held no position in the stocks mentioned.