Published: Wed, November 08, 2017
Culture | By Antonia Gonzales

Disney ends ban on Los Angeles Times after media backlash

Disney ends ban on Los Angeles Times after media backlash

It was revealed last week that Disney, upset over what it deemed to be unfair coverage of the company's business affairs, did not allow Los Angeles Times movie writers to take part in advance screenings of its Marvel blockbuster Thor: Ragnarok, and that the newspaper would be banned from upcoming screenings as well, presumably including December's blockbuster-in-waiting, Star Wars: The Last Jedi.

Other outlets have also vowed to not attend and therefore review Disney movies until the ban is lifted.

After press and news outlets around the country called out the Walt Disney Company for its decision to bar The Los Angeles Times from its press screenings, the media giant has changed its mind. "This is a risky precedent and not at all in the public interest", noted a spokesperson in a statement.

Disney responded to the piece more broadly by reportedly excluding out LA Times reporters from its film screenings.

The action comes as four film critics' groups took the extraordinary step of denouncing the media company's actions - and voting to disqualify Disney's films from year-end awards consideration until the news ban is lifted.

"The New York Times will not attend preview screenings of Disney films until access is restored to The Los Angeles Times", the newspaper said in a statement. But Disney brought forth this action when it chose to punish The Times' journalists rather than express its disagreement with a business story via ongoing public discussion.

Thus, for as long as Disney locks out the Los Angeles Times, this outlet will withhold the only thing we have of value to that studio: the free advertising provided by not only reviewing their films, but write-ups of their trailers, production announcements, casting rumors, and so on.

The statement concluded, "Disney's response should gravely concern all who believe in the importance of a free press, artists included".

According to The Hollywood Reporter, each of the film critics groups are set to start voting for film awards starting on November 30, with the last group set to vote on January 6.

Meanwhile, the Television Critics Association, which also gives out awards (and now is chaired by THR TV critic Daniel Fienberg), issued a statement on Tuesday denouncing Disney for taking "punitive action against journalists for doing their jobs", but not declaring any retaliatory plans. It added that the Times published a "biased and inaccurate series, wholly driven by a political agenda". We've had a long relationship with the L.A. Times, and we hope they will adhere to balanced reporting in the future.

Notably, it was The Washington Post's critic-at-large Alyssa Rosenberg who kicked off the now-rapidly escalating Disney boycott on Monday.

Disney's awards season contenders include its live-action "Beauty and the Beast", "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2" and animated films "Cars 3" and "Coco".

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