Major Critics Groups Disqualify Disney from Year-End Awards Consideration over LA Times Ban!!!

Update: Following the backlash, Disney has ended its ban on the L.A. Times following backlash and news outlets, “including The Washington Post, The New York Times and the A.V. Club, said they were boycotting advance screenings of Disney films in solidarity. Disney released the following statement [via NY Times]:

“We’ve had productive discussions with the newly installed leadership at The Los Angeles Times regarding our specific concerns, and as a result, we’ve agreed to restore access to advance screenings for their film critics,” Disney said in a statement.

Original story below:

For those who saw the news yesterday that Disney might buy 20th Century Fox and were super jazzed at the possibility of a bigger MCU, here’s another problem with corporate consolidation: a giant corporation using its power to try and cow journalists into submission.

That’s what Disney is currently trying to do by banning the L.A. Times critics from reviewing Disney movies over an article the L.A. Times ran related to Disney’s business arrangements with the City of Anaheim. So because of a story that had nothing to do with Disney’s movies, Disney is using its corporate might to force the L.A. Times to only print positive coverage of its business dealings lest they lose out on reviewing Disney’s movies.

In response, four major critics groups—Los Angeles Film Critics Association, the New York Film Critics Circle, the Boston Society of Film Critics and the National Society of Film Critics—have released a statement saying they will refuse to consider any Disney movie for year-end awards until the ban is lifted. That’s well-intentioned, but it seems kind of meek as a response.

Disney doesn’t really care about year-end awards. They care about blockbusters. Marvel movies, Pixar movies, and Star Wars movies are all going to be just fine whether or not they end up on any critics’ group year-end list. Yes, the studio would probably like to have Best Animated feature steam for Coco and maybe rack up some technical accomplishments, but winning Oscars isn’t part of the studio’s strategy. They’re not A24, Fox Searchlight, or Focus Features. These critics groups are basically taking away something Disney doesn’t care about all that much.

A far more forceful response comes from Washington Post critic Alyssa Rosenberg. Rosenberg published an editorial today stating that she would not review Star Wars: The Last Jedi or any other Disney movie until the ban on the L.A. Times is lifted. Now imaging if all the critics from the aforementioned groups followed Rosenberg’s lead, and every time a Disney movie was up for review, they instead published an article explaining that readers could have a review but that Disney is trying to punish journalists who get in the way of its business interests. They would educate readers and possibly rally support for their cause.

Cutting off Disney from year-end consideration feels more like a self-serving move devoid of sacrifice. I respect the people in these critics’ organizations, and I don’t doubt their good intentions. But if they really want to punish Disney, they’ll need to do more than simply disqualify them from awards.

Here’s the full statement:

Nov. 7, 2017 — The 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 jointly denounce the Walt Disney Company’s media blackout of the Los Angeles Times. Furthermore, all four critics’ organizations have voted to disqualify Disney’s films from year-end awards consideration until said blackout is publicly rescinded.On Nov. 3, The Times published a statement that its writers and editors had been blocked from attending advance screenings of Disney films, in response to The Times’ news coverage of Disney’s business arrangements with the City of Anaheim. 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.It is admittedly extraordinary for a critics’ group, let alone four critics’ groups, to take any action that might penalize film artists for decisions beyond their control. 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. Disney’s response should gravely concern all who believe in the importance of a free press, artists included.

The New York Film Critics Circle will vote on its annual awards Thursday, Nov. 30; the Los Angeles Film Critics Association will vote Sunday, Dec. 3; the Boston Society of Film Critics will vote Sunday, Dec. 10; and the National Society of Film Critics will vote Saturday, Jan. 6.


via Collider

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