Timeline of Sony's cyberattack corporate crisis: Pascal steps down

2.5.2015: Amy Pascal says she will step down from her role at the studio in May.

Thursday, February 5
1 pm:
Sony Pictures Entertainment co-chair Amy Pascal will step down from her role to launch what the studio calls a "major new production venue" in May.

"I have spent almost my entire professional life at Sony Pictures, and I am energized to be starting this new chapter based at the company I call home," she said in a company statement.

Wednesday, December 31:
8 am:
The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times both detailed Sony Pictures Entertainment executives’ response to the November cyberattack in stories published on Tuesday evening. Sony executives reverted to 20th century methods — a phone tree, for one — to communicate after the hacking took down critical systems.

The FBI and the White House also stood by statements that North Korea was behind the cyberattack, despite contrary opinions from IT security experts.

Tuesday, December 30:
9:45 am:
Politico reported that the FBI was briefed by a security firm that believes disgruntled former Sony employees orchestrated the November cyberattack against Sony Pictures Entertainment, not North Korea.

Meanwhile, government officials told Reuters that the reclusive country may have hired specialists from outside North Korea to carry out the hack.

Monday, December 29:
8 am:
The Interview earns $18 million since its release, including $15 million in charges for streaming or downloading. 

Wednesday, December 24:
2 pm:
Sony Pictures Entertainment released The Interview via Google Play, YouTube Movies, XBox Movies, and SeeTheInterview.com at the price of $5.99 for a rental and $14.99 to buy.

Monday, December 22:
10:45 am:

Sony Pictures Entertainment lawyer David Boies said on Sunday’s Meet the Press that the studio still plans to distribute The Interview, but it has not figured out which platform it will use to do so. He called the hacking a "state-sponsored criminal act."

Sony Pictures Entertainment has also hired Judy Smith, well known as the inspiration for the TV show Scandal, for crisis communications help.

Friday, December 19:
4:10 pm:
Sony Pictures Entertainment CEO Michael Lynton told CNN on Friday afternoon that "we have not caved, we have not given in, we have persevered, we will not back down" in response to President Obama’s comments earlier in the day. Lynton said the studio had no choice but to shelve the film after theater chains backed out of showing it

2:30 pm:
President Barack Obama said Sony Pictures Entertainment "made a mistake" by cancelling the release of The Interview after threats of terrorism during his last press conference of the year on Friday afternoon.

The FBI says that after investigating with other federal agencies, it has determined the North Korean government was behind the cyberattack against Sony Pictures Entertainment.

8 am:
Sony Pictures Entertainment co-chairman Amy Pascal met with prominent black leaders in New York on Thursday in an effort to mend fences over racially insensitive emails she and other executives sent joking about President Obama's film preferences. 

Thursday, December 18:
8 am:
Entertainers reacted angrily on Wednesday night to Sony Pictures Entertainment's decision to cancel the release of The Interview, with some actors calling the studio cowardly for giving in to threats from hackers.

Wednesday, December 17:
6:45 pm:

US officials told various media outlets that they believe North Korea was behind the November hacking of Sony Pictures Entertainment, from which information continues to trickle out.

Earlier Wednesday afternoon, Sony cancelled the Christmas premiere of The Interview after many major theaters declined to play the film.

3:30 pm:
The five largest theater chains in the US will not show The Interview, according to The Hollywood Reporter. AMC Entertainment, Cinemark, Cineplex Entertainment, Carmike Cinemas, and Regal Entertainment dropped plans to play the film, citing terrorist threats.

10 am:
After stars Seth Rogen and James Franco pulled out of planned media appearances on Tuesday, Sony Pictures Entertainment reportedly gave movie theater chains the option not to show The Interview due to terrorist threats.

Sony also cancelled the film’s New York City premiere, scheduled for Thursday.

Hackers exposed the emails of Sony Pictures Entertainment CEO Michael Lynton, which detailed disputes the company had with The New York Times over coverage.

Former employees also filed two lawsuits against the studio on Tuesday, claiming it should have kept their personal data safe.

Tuesday, December 16:
The group claiming responsibility for the cyberattack against Sony issued what appeared to be a threat of a terrorist attack against people who see The Interview.  

Monday, December 15:
Sony Pictures Entertainment chairman and CEO Michael Lynton and Pascal hold separate town hall meetings with staffers. According to a Reuters report, both receive applause.

The studio also tells both current and former staffers to be on the lookout for fraudulent activity incorporating their personal data due to the cyberattack. 

New data also revealed the studio paid Jennifer Lawrence less than her male American Hustle co-stars.

Sunday, December 14:
Sony retains super-attorney David Boies, who sends a letter to media outlets such as The New York Times and Wall Street Journal, demanding they destroy any files or other data obtained after the cyberattack and cease reporting on their contents.

"If you do not comply with this request and the stolen information is used or disseminated by you in any manner, [Sony Pictures] will have no choice but to hold you responsible for any damage or loss arising from such use or dissemination by you," he said in the letter.

Re/code posted the letter it received online.  

The Guardians of Peace threaten to release even more info on Sony in a "Christmas gift."

Friday, December 12:
Bloomberg News reports that Pascal’s exclusion from a Hollywood Reporter roundtable led to the ousting of former head of corporate communications Charles Sipkins. Pascal’s husband, a former New York Times reporter, told her via email, "I would fire your PR guy immediately…or at least tell him you’re not going to deal with him anymore." Sipkins was out of a job shortly thereafter.

However, Pascal told Bloomberg the roundtable was not the reason Sipkins was dismissed.

Week of December 7:
Leaked emails reveal embarrassing email conversations held by Pascal and producer Scott Rudin about top Hollywood stars – one called Angelina Jolie "a spoiled brat." Rudin reportedly joked about President Barack Obama’s race in one note, saying, "I bet he likes Kevin Hart." Both Pascal and Rudin apologize.

Anonymous hackers also claimed responsibility for hacking the PlayStation Network.

Week of November 31:
Sony alerts thousands of employees via email that its top executives are "deeply saddened" by the security breach, which also resulted in the leak of films such as Annie and Fury. Documents with the personal information of Sony executives, including some salaries and Social Security Numbers, are leaked as well. Sony struggles to restore some critical systems, and Sylvester Stallone’s Social Security number is leaked.  

In what Re/code called its first "substantive comments" on the situation, Sony called the cyberattack "unprecedented in nature."

Early December:
Leaked documents show that Hollywood studios, Sony in particular, have a lack of diversity both in terms of gender and race among their executives. The FBI warns other major companies about the potential for cyberattacks.

Late November:
The studio hires a forensics unit to look into a cyberattack that took down its computer network earlier that month. The group Guardians of Peace took responsibility for the attack. The incident is thought to be connected to the James Franco-Seth Rogan film The Interview, set for a Christmas release, comically depicting the assassination of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

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