Film critics associations across the country are banding together in support of the Los Angeles Times, which was recently banned by Disney from attending press screenings following some investigative pieces on the media conglomerate’s parks. Yesterday, The A.V. Club joined The Washington Post’s Alyssa Rosenberg in her decision not to attend Disney press screenings until the LA Times could. And now, 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 have issued a joint statement denouncing Disney’s media blackout. The four groups have also voted to disqualify Disney movies from year-end awards until it lifts the ban on the Times.
The four groups would rather not “penalize film artists for decisions beyond their control,” but Disney provoked this kind of response by punishing film critics at the Times over investigative work. As A.V. Club film editor A.A. Dowd has noted, this sets a dangerous precedent for suppression of the press. And with Disney also pondering picking up 21st Century Fox—the studio and TV properties, not any of the news or sports networks—its reach is just likely to expand.
If the media company rescinds the blackout in time, it could still be up for consideration, though those deadlines are looming: the NY Film Critics Circle votes November 30 on its annual awards, while LA, Boston, and the National Society of Film Critics will vote December 3, December 10, and January 6, respectively.