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Disney Ends Blackout of L.A. Times Critics After Public Backlash

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That didn’t take long. Walt Disney reversed course on its decision to bar Los Angeles Times film critics from advance movie screenings following a flood of public criticism this week by media outlets and film critics’ associations.

“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,” a Disney spokesperson said in a statement.

The move from Disney comes after a long list of film critics and news publications—including The New York Times, and the A.V. Club website—publicly announced that their reporters would boycott advance screenings of Disney-produced films in a move of solidarity so long as Disney’s ban on Los Angeles Times critics continued.

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Last week, The Los Angeles Times acknowledged the Disney blackout in a note to the newspaper’s readers, writing that the paper’s annual preview of holiday season movies would exclude Disney films due to the media giant’s move to cut off access to screenings for The Times’ critics. Disney said in a statement last week that its feud with The Times stemmed from a disagreement over the newspaper’s recent reporting on the various incentives and tax breaks the company receives in Anaheim, Calif., the home of the Disneyland Resort. Disney previously claimed that The Times‘ reporting on that matter “showed a complete disregard for basic journalistic standards.”

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On Tuesday morning, four of the country’s biggest film critics’ groups issued a joint statement denouncing Disney’s decision to bar Los Angeles Times critics from movie screenings, and those critics’ groups also said they would disqualify all Disney films from any year-end awards. By Tuesday afternoon a growing chorus of critics in the media and Hollywood were denouncing Disney’s actions with regard to The Times, including artists such as Oscar-nominated director Ava DuVernay, who helmed Disney’s film adaptation of A Wrinkle in Time that will hit theaters in March 2018. (The much-anticipated film made DuVernay the first black woman to direct a movie with a $100 million budget.)

Disney’s decision to backtrack on its feud with The Los Angeles Times also comes at a time when the huge company’s movie studio unit is gearing up for a big finish to 2017 with the impending release of Pixar’s animated film Coco (Nov. 22) and the highly-anticipated Star Wars: The Last Jedi (Dec. 15).

CORRECTION: The original version of this article mistakenly identified The Washington Post as one of the news organizations that joined the boycott of Disney movie screenings in solidarity with The Los Angeles Times. In fact, only one opinion writer at The Washington Post, Alyssa Rosenberg, joined that boycott, and not the organization as a whole.

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