News publications The New York Times, Boston Globe, The AV Club and Flavorwire have joined Washington Post in boycotting Disney movie preview screenings after the media giant debarred the Los Angeles Times newspaper from attending preview screenings of its upcoming films citing “a complete disregard for basic journalistic standards”. The protest has been joined by film critic groups and even filmmaker Ava DuVernay, who has directed the film A Wrinkle in Time for the studio.
Disney Films’ censorship of Los Angeles Times followed an investigative story about its theme park Disneyland, reported The Hollywood Reporter. The story had alleged that Disney pursued questionable methods to boost profit.
“Despite our sharing numerous indisputable facts with the reporter, several editors, and the publisher over many months, the Times moved forward with a biased and inaccurate series, wholly driven by a political agenda,” the studio complained in a statement. “We’ve had a long relationship with the LA Times. We hope they will adhere to balanced reporting in the future.” The LA Times hit back by saying that it would continue to “review and cover Disney movies and programs when they are available to the public”.
The debate widened after Alyssa Rosenberg, a Washington Post journalist, announced that she would not be attending any preview screening of the studio’s films. “...as long as Disney is blocking the critics from the Los Angeles Times from press screenings, I can’t in good conscience attend similar showings or write reviews in advance,” she said in a post.
Boston Globe, The AV Club and Flavorwire followed suit and announced that they would stand by Los Angeles Times. “The A.V. Club will follow The Washington Post’s lead and — effective immediately — we will refrain from attending any press screenings of Disney movies, at least until the company rescinds its ban on The Los Angeles Times,” A.V. Club film editor A.A. Dowd asserted. A New York Times statement said, “This is a dangerous precedent and not at all in the public interest.”
Four influential American film critic groups have also announced that they will bar Disney productions from being nominated for their awards. In a statement released on Tuesday, 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 said that Disney’s decision “should gravely concern all who believe in the importance of a free press, artists included”. The Toronto Film Critics Association too joined the boycott on Tuesday.
Ava DuVernay signalled her support for the protest. DuVernay, director of Selma and 13th, has wrapped up her first tentpole film for Disney. A Wrinkle in Time is a fantasy adventure involving time travel and starring Reese Witherspoon, Chris Pine, Oprah Winfrey and Mindy Kaling. The movie will be released on March 9.