These Film Critics Are Boycotting Disney for Blacklisting the Los Angeles Times
Walt Disney’s movies could see a dearth of awards this year due to a growing backlash over the entertainment behemoth’s recent move to bar one newspaper’s critics from advance press screenings of Disney films.
On Tuesday, four of the country’s biggest film critics’ associations responded to Disney’s recent blackout of critics at the Los Angeles Times in a joint statement that denounces the media giant’s actions while banning all Disney films from the groups’ year-end awards.
Last week, The Times published a note to its readers acknowledging that the newspaper’s annual preview of holiday season movies would exclude any films produced by Disney on account of the company’s decision to deny the newspaper’s critics access to advance screenings. “This year, Walt Disney Co. studios declined to offer The Times advance screenings, citing what it called unfair coverage of its business ties with Anaheim,” the newspaper wrote. “The Times will continue to review and cover Disney movies and programs when they are available to the public.”
(The Times‘ article that supposedly drew Disney’s ire is focused on the various incentives and tax breaks the corporation reportedly receives in Anaheim, Calif., where its flagship Disneyland Resort is located.)
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Members of the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, the New York Film Critics Circle, the Boston Society of Film Critics, and the National Society of Film Critics joined together to call out Disney over its response to The Times‘ reporting on Anaheim and to disqualify Disney films from awards consideration as long as the company’s blackout of the newspaper’s film critics continues. “Disney’s actions, which include an indefinite ban on any interaction with The Times, are antithetical to the principles of a free press and set a dangerous precedent in a time of already heightened hostility toward journalists,” the critics’ groups said in their statement.
The move from the critics’ groups comes after various members of the media have spoke out against Disney’s reported blackout of The Times‘ journalists, with writers at outlets such as the Washington Post and the website The A.V. Club pledging to not attend any Disney press screenings in solidarity with The Times.
Fortune contacted Disney for comment and we will update this article with any response from the company. Disney did issue a statement to Deadline last week refuting The Times, claiming the newspaper “showed a complete disregard for basic journalistic standards” with its reporting on Disneyland and Anaheim.
The statement from the four critics’ groups also notes that voting on the groups’ various annual awards kicks off, in some cases, in less than a month. Disney’s Thor: Ragnarok topped the box office this past weekend with a $122 million domestic debut in theaters, and the company has a pair of potential blockbuster releases set to hit theaters before the end of the year, with Pixar’s animated film Coco (Nov. 22) and the highly-anticipated Star Wars: The Last Jedi (Dec. 15).