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Sony Says Hack Response Cost $15 Million

The film studio took a big hit to its reputation when hackers released a flood of data stolen from its servers. And according to earnings announced Tuesday, it also took a hit to its bottom line.

Posted on March 17, 2015, at 12:43 p.m. ET

Fred Prouser / Reuters

After a one-month delay in reporting its earnings, Sony said Tuesday that its profit in the last three months of 2014 more than tripled to $741 million, even as it spent more than $15 million to deal with the devastating cyberattack at the end of last year.

The big jump in profit wasn't thanks to performance from its Sony Pictures division, which includes movie and TV studios. Sony said that there were fewer major DVD and streaming releases in the quarter compared to the year before, while the company's films did not perform as well.

Sony Pictures had $1.7 billion in revenue and $51 million in operating income, a decrease of 74% from the year before in yen terms. Television income was hit compared to last year thanks to Sony getting major income from demand for Breaking Bad at the end of 2013. Sony said that it has spent $15 million (1.8 billion yen) on "investigation and remediation costs relating to a cyberattack on SPE's network and IT infrastructure which was identified in November 2014."

The attack exposed gigabytes of internal Sony Pictures corporate documents, including personal and salary information of thousands of current and former employees. Email conversations of Sony executives and other industry figures included Scott Rudin calling Angelina Jolie a "spoiled brat" and then-Sony Pictures co-chair Amy Pascal and Rudin joking about President Obama liking movies starring black filmmakers or about black historical subjects.

Pascal would later step down from her co-chair position to lead a production company based on Sony's campus in Culver City, California. Pascal later told Tina Brown in an interview that she had been fired.

The most obvious hit to Sony besides the direct cost of detecting and responding to the hack was The Interview, a comedy action film starring James Franco and Seth Rogen as two journalists sent on a mission to assassinate Kim Jong-un. The film was pulled from its planned cinematic release following a threat issued by a group purporting to be the hackers, which warned of attacks on theaters screening the film.

U.S. law enforcement and intelligence agencies have blamed North Korea for the hack. While The Interview was released online, and set a digital record by garnering some $40 million in streaming revenue, it likely did not make money for the studio because of its limited theatrical release.