LA Times documented lavish election spending that defended Disneyland tax breaks.
“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—conveniently not mentioning that its films were facing a widespread boycott from film critics.
The dispute began in September, when the LA Times published a story called “Is Disney paying its share in Anaheim?” The piece examined the large tax breaks Disney has gotten from the city of Anaheim in exchange for continuing to invest there. A followup looked at how Disney spent heavily in the 2016 election to prevent the election of Disney critics to the Anaheim city council.
Disney claimed that the stories showed “complete disregard for basic journalism standards” and were “wholly driven by a political agenda.” So The Mouse cut LA Times film critics off from the advanced movie screenings of Disney movies like Thor: Ragnarok.
Studios commonly offer these screenings so critics have time to write their reviews at least a day before a movie debuts, giving readers time to read the reviews before deciding whether to see a movie on its opening night. Denying access to the LA Times meant that the paper’s critics wouldn’t see the movies until opening night, and their reviews would appear at least two days later than those of their competitors.
But Disney’s effort to strong-arm the LA Times provoked a backlash from other film critics. The Washington Post’s Alyssa Rosenberg announced she would boycott advance screenings of Disney movies, including The Last Jedi, until Disney reversed its stance. Soon afterward, The New York Times announced that it would boycott Disney films as well. Several film critics’ associations announced that they would blacklist Disney films from receiving awards this year.
The pressure seems to have worked. On Tuesday, Disney announced it would end its blacklist of LA Times reviewers.
“All the critics who stood together in solidarity with the LA Times just won a huge victory,” Rosenberg tweeted on Tuesday.