With hackers now regularly stealing and threatening to release TV shows and films, it’s no wonder that creators are so paranoid about security.
Chief executive Bob Iger revealed yesterday that a group of hackers claim to have pilfered a copy of the fifth installment in the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise and are threatening to incrementally release parts of it unless the company pays a hefty ransom. (Disney had no intention of meeting the demands.) And less than a month ago, episodes from the new season of Orange Is the New Black were released after Netflix refused to pay a ransom.
Another film from the “Johnny Depp needs alimony money” franchise may not be worth a ransom payment—but what if it was The Last Jedi?
As more of these attacks happen, one thing is for sure—the extreme measures creators like David Lynch and George Lucas have taken to secure titles like Twin Peaks and Star Wars sound downright reasonable right about now.
Shredding the Twin Peaks revival
The 200-person cast of the long-awaited Twin Peaks revival couldn’t reveal spoilers if they wanted to. They have no idea what’s going on.
The actors received their lines for the first time on the morning of each shoot, Harry Goaz, who plays the awkward local lawman Andy Brennan, told The Dallas Morning News. “We didn’t even receive lines for our entire scenes, only our sides,” he said.
Immediately after he wrapped, the actor handed his script off to a personal assistant, who shredded the pages in front of a witness.
Critics won’t even receive advance review copies of the new episodes. So the Showtime series will be as much of a mystery when it premieres on May 21 as it was when the ABC pilot first aired in 1990. That’s exactly how creators David Lynch and Mark Frost want it.
Drones and Game of Thrones
Game of Thrones is one of the biggest shows on TV, so naturally, it has one of the biggest security staffs on TV.
The production reportedly hired more than 200 security guards for the season-five finale, in which Cersei Lannister was forced to strip naked and walk through King’s Landing, according to gossip site TMZ. Cellphones were banned from the four-day shoot, local businesses were paid to close up shop and leave the area, and everyone involved signed a confidentiality agreement that threatened a $250,000 lawsuit if details were leaked.
Only four essential crew members were reportedly present when Cersei, played by Lena Headey, actually stripped down.
The HBO drama, which has been plagued by rogue drones, script leaks, and other security issues, has gotten even more intense with security for its coming season. The scripts have gone digital, actors must enable a two-step verification process in order to receive them via email, and the cast has to sign for rehearsal notes on set and return them before they leave.
“If you don’t, people will chase you until you give them back,” Nathalie Emmanuel, who plays Missandei, told Express.
The second season of Stranger Things
Stranger Things executive producer Shawn Levy reportedly consulted with the masters at Game of Thrones on how to beef up security for the highly anticipated second season of the Netflix show.
“We had no security protocols last season and we have extensive security protocols this season,” Levy told Entertainment Weekly. “I can’t speak about what they are because then people could crack them. We protect every story point, every page of every script.”
Co-creator Ross Duffer says he now has to burn his shooting notes each day instead of throwing them in the trash.
And there are code names galore. The show has a code name. The cast members have a code name. All the call sheets have the codes names written on them. “It’s this weird thing,” said Millie Bobby Brown, who plays Eleven. “On the call sheets our names are across it and if we lose it, we’re dead.”
That Walking Dead cliffhanger
AMC didn’t take any chances with The Walking Dead’s season-seven opener. It was clear from the season-six finale that someone was about to get pummeled to death with Negan’s baseball bat, but it wasn’t clear who. So the cast and crew filmed death sequences for each of the 11 characters on the chopping block: Rick, Carl, Michonne, Glenn, Maggie, Daryl, Abraham, Eugene, Sasha, Rosita, and Aaron.
The producer and episode director then worked with the editors to pick who got the bat, according to the Hollywood Reporter.
The biggest secret in the galaxy
Long before Rey, George Lucas was in charge and famously trusted no one. Which is why one of the best kept secrets on TV and film was the reveal in The Empire Strikes Back that Darth Vader was Luke Skywalker’s father.
For most of the production, only Lucas and director Irvin Kershner knew. Mark Hamill, who played Luke, found out just before they filmed the scene.
When it was shot, Dave Prowse, the actor who portrayed Vader, was given a fake line to throw the cast and crew off the scent. “You don’t know the truth: Obi-Wan killed your father,” he said, instead of the famous line, “No, I am you father,” Hamill told Sound and Vision.
“It was a wonderfully hard secret to keep,” Hamill said. “Kershner, the director, brought me aside and said ‘Now I know this, and George knows this, and now you’re going to know this, but if you tell anybody, and that means Carrie or Harrison, or anybody, we’re going to know who it is because we know who knows.'”
Security on The Force Awakens, if you can believe it, was even tighter, Hamill said. He was covered from head to toe in a robe and hood on the walks from his trailer to the soundstage because of drones and reporters lurking around the studio. “I’m surprised I can even admit I’m in it!” he told ComingSoon.net in 2015 after filming had wrapped on the movie. (He’s in it for less than a minute.)
Given the recent extortion attempt, one can only imagine the lengths Disney has gone to to safeguard the next Star Wars saga film. The movie, due out in US theaters on Dec. 15, is in post-production.
Disney and its Star Wars subsidiary, Lucasfilm, did not return Quartz’s request for comment about its cybersecurity.