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Update: Disney re-grants access to LA Times after blackout

UPDATE:  After several critics associations came out in solidarity with the LA Times, effectively disqualifying Disney movies from awards consideration, Disney issued a statement saying they will "restore access" to the Times and allow their writers to cover and review their movies. Here is Disney's statement via New York Times:

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.

With an administration in the White House that seeks to undermine the media and journalism, the free press is facing some of the greatest threats it’s ever encountered. Unfortunately, the opposition isn’t just coming from politicians, as Disney recently took action against the Los Angeles Times for their reporting on how the company conducts business with the City of Anaheim, California – the home of Disneyland. But now several media outlets are joining with the L.A. Times to fight back and are taking a firm stand against the company.

Just this morning, Los Angeles Film Critics Association, The New York Film Critics Circle, The Boston Society of Film Critics and The National Society of Film Critics put out a press release saying that they will officially disqualify any Disney movies from end-of-the-year awards until the corporation’s imposed blackout on The Times’ coverage of their films is lifted. Read the full statement below:

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have voted to disqualify Disney’s films from year-end awards consideration until said blackout is publicly rescinded.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

The statement is signed by Claudia Puig, President of the Los Angeles Film Critics Association; Eric Kohn, Chair of the New York Film Critics Circle; Tom Meek, President of the Boston Society of Film Critics and; Liz Weis, Executive Director of the National Society of Film Critics

Though this doesn't block movie's being nominated for big awards, such as at the Golden Globes or Oscars, the organizations that are part of this process are major voices in the industry, and not having a place in their awards consideration could be a huge blow to any awards campaigns the Walt Disney Company intends on running for any of its movies. This a bold move for the organizations to make, and one that will surely be responded to by Disney in the coming days.

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