The Walt Disney Company, after facing huge media backlash, is lifting a ban against the LA Times critics from attending press screenings of its films. Several media outlets and critics’ organisations have announced that they would boycott the studio’s upcoming films until the ban was removed.
The ban from one of the media conglomerates came after a story, run by LA Times about taxpayer’s money going to a Disneyland in Anaheim, California. After the publication, written by Daniel Miller, a former journalist with The Hollywood Reporter who is now a staff writer at the LA Times, the two-part story indicated that some residents and local politicians in Anaheim weren’t happy about tax incentives being doled out to Disneyland.
Following the report, Disney decided to shut out LA Times journalists from any upcoming Disney film screenings.
Even though they lifted the ban after receiving backlash, the conglomerate is still upset and considers the story biased. Disney had discussions with the LA Times and according to a statement published by them on Tuesday, November 7, they have “agreed to restore access to advance screenings for their film critics.”
Disney’s reversal of strategy came after journalists and filmmakers expressed their solidarity with the LA Times. Several reporters, for example, have said they would refrain from reviewing Disney films for as long as their boycott is in stance.
The incident also prompted Ava DuVernay, the director of Disney’s upcoming film, “A Wrinkle in Time,” to tweet: “Saluting the film journalists standing up for one another. Standing with you.”
Furthermore, the New York Film Critics Circle, National Society of Film Critics, Los Angeles Film Critic Association and Boston Society of Film Critics issued a joint statement saying that Disney’s response to a story in the LA Times “should gravely concern all who believe in the importance of a free press, artists included.”
On Tuesday, the New York Times also said they will not attend any Disney screenings unless the LA Times was also invited.
Their partial reversal came four days after the LA Times said on its website that the conglomerate was no longer inviting its journalists to its advance movie screenings, where the reviews of the films are written prior to the actual release.
Disney released a statement four days ago before their strategic reversal, saying the LA Times “showed a complete disregard for basic journalistic standards” in publishing Miller’s story. “The Times moved forward with a biased and inaccurate series, wholly driven by a political agenda,” the statement read.
Groups of critics say they will not consider any Disney titles for the end of year awards, including the upcoming Golden Globe and Critics’ Choice, and next year’s Oscars, hence putting Disney titles like “Beauty and the Beast,” “Coco,” and “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” in a tight spot.