While most are focusing on the toll Cyber Monday will take on their wallet, Sony Pictures is counting the cost of last week’s cyber attack on its box office revenues.

In the largest online leak since Expendables 3 earlier this year, five of Sony’s titles have been illegally distributed online, the most high-profile of which is “Fury,” which has only recently come out in theaters.

English: Sony Pictures Plaza, next to the main...

Sony Pictures Plaza, next to the main studio lot of Sony Pictures Entertainment in Culver City. (Wikipedia)

The popular war film starring Brad Pitt and Shia LaBeouf was released on October 17th but was the subject of intense pirate activity after last week’s hack, responsibility for which has been claimed by a group called Guardians of Peace. By the time the holiday weekend was over more than one million unique IP addresses had accessed “Fury,” giving Sony significant cause for concern as its four other titles are yet to be released.

One interesting nuance – and one that the studio hopes will mitigate some of its losses – is that the other titles are considered to be either less high profile than “Fury,” or targeted at audiences less likely to engage in piracy. “Annie,” for instance, is viewed as a family title and as such isn’t as attractive to individual pirates.

This varied activity across the five titles demonstrates the complexity of the piracy problem, which spans different kinds of audience but nonetheless needs to be localized to those demographics most likely to access illegal content. As some of those groups skew younger and increasingly Internet-savvy, so early education becomes more and more important to those trying to protect copyright.

On a macro level the Sony Pictures incident represents the more direct threat to content creators, with early theft of blockbuster titles leaving any studio that falls victim to hackers at their mercy.

Pre-release theft and leaks are coming of age in the digital distribution model and provide yet another reason for moviemakers to keep their content cards close to their chest. Whether or not that’s truly possible, given the frequent big brand hacks that seem to crop up every few weeks, is another matter entirely.