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Film Critics Organizations Denounce Walt Disney Company’s Ban of Los Angeles Times in Open Letter

On November 3, the Los Angeles Times published a statement saying that the paper was blocked from advance screenings of Walt Disney Company–produced and –distributed films due to the periodical’s investigations of the conglomerate’s problematic financial relationship with the city of Anaheim, California, where Disneyland Park and other Disney-affiliated businesses are located.

In response to the ban, a public statement has been released by the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, the New York Film Critics Circle, the Boston Society of Film Critics, and the National Society of Film, denouncing Disney’s gesture. The organizations declare that they “have voted to disqualify Disney’s films from year-end awards consideration until said blackout is publicly rescinded.”

The letter, in full, appears below:

A STATEMENT FROM 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

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have voted to disqualify Disney’s films from year-end awards consideration until said blackout is publicly rescinded.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.

Claudia Puig, President, Los Angeles Film Critics Association: claudiapuig2@gmail.com

Eric Kohn, Chair, New York Film Critics Circle: eric@indiewire.com

Tom Meek, President, Boston Society of Film Critics: thom3@aol.com

Liz Weis, Executive Director, National Society of Film Critics: NSFCmail@gmail.com

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