In the face of a rising tide of anger, the Walt Disney Company has reversed its decision to ban The Los Angeles Times from press screenings of its films. Disney’s widely criticized move was in response to a recent L.A. Times report on the company’s business dealings with the city of Anaheim, which they claimed “showed a complete disregard for basic journalistic standards.”
“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 today in a statement (per The NYT).
Disney’s reversal comes shortly after numerous news outlets announced they would boycott advance Disney film screenings in solidarity with The L.A. Times. The company also found itself opposed by four major film critic circles—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—who condemned Disney’s actions as “antithetical to the principles of a free press,” accusing them of setting “a dangerous precedent in a time of already heightened hostility toward journalists.”
Filmmaker Ava DuVernay, who directed Disney’s A Wrinkle in Time, due out on March 9, 2018, voiced her support for The L.A. Times on Twitter.
The Wire creator David Simon chimed in, too, tweeting, “If journos being selectively barred, then I’ll play, too. This award season, all Disney screeners dumped. No votes from me for their stuff.”
CNN anchor Jake Tapper was yet another high-profile figure who came out hard against Disney’s L.A. Times blackout.
This is hardly the first time Disney has gone after the media for reporting that it doesn’t approve of, as The NYT points out:
Disney has a history of taking punitive action against news organizations and analysts that publish articles or analysis that it deems unfair. Company representatives consistently tell journalists that the media’s access to its films and executives is “a privilege and not a right.”
Simon’s reaction to Disney’s ban reversal sums it up nicely: “Enough of that horseshit, yes.”