Taylor Schilling, left, Natasha Lyonne, center, and Lin Tucci star in Netflix’s "Orange Is the New Black." (Ursula Coyote for Netflix)
A hacker claims to have stolen the upcoming season of Netflix’s hit series "Orange Is the New Black" and is demanding that the video-streaming service pay an unspecified ransom to prevent all the new episodes from being prematurely released online.
The hacker, operating under the name the Dark Overlord, already has purportedly uploaded the first episode to an illegal file-sharing service. The Associated Press could not legally confirm the authenticity of that uploaded file.
New episodes of "Orange" are scheduled for official release June 9.
"We are aware of the situation. A production vendor used by several major TV studios had its security compromised and the appropriate law enforcement authorities are involved,” Netflix said in an official statement Saturday.
Pirated copies of "Orange" could dent Netflix’s subscriber growth and the company’s stock price.
In the ransom note, the Dark Overlord claimed to have stolen series from other studios too by breaking into a single company. The hacker promised to release those titles as well unless "modest" ransoms are paid.
Rumors of a massive leak of Hollywood films and TV episodes have been circulating online for months, fed by screenshots of footage and a copy of a proposed deal to delete the stolen material in return for tens of thousands of dollars in electronic currency.
When the AP contacted the Dark Overlord in February, the hacker said the purloined video wouldn’t be made publicly available after all, making the far-fetched claim that "no one really (cares) about unreleased movies and TV show episodes."
It’s not clear what triggered the Dark Overload’s renewed ransom demands.
Netflix is counting on "Orange" to help it add 3.2 million subscribers from April through June. That’s substantially higher than the company’s average gain of 1.8 million subscribers in the same period over the past five years.
Whenever Netflix’s quarterly subscriber gains fall short of management’s projections, the company’s stock usually plunges.
See the most-read stories in Entertainment this hour >> »
The chaos of the Fyre Festival: ‘It looked like the set of ‘Outbreak’ ‘
Classic Hollywood: Kirk and Anne Douglas’ lifetime of love is captured in their letters
The deities behind ‘American Gods’ are off to a bloody start
12:10 p.m. This article was updated with an official statement from Netflix.
This article was originally published at 9:40 a.m.