Disney has barred the Los Angeles Times from receiving advance screenings of its films, after the paper reported on Disneyland’s alleged corrupt deals with public officials in Anaheim, California.
On Friday, the L.A. Times published a note about the “blackout” which states that Walt Disney studios declined to provide early screenings for the paper’s 2017 holiday movie preview. Their coverage features films like Justice League and I, Tonya, but no Thor: Ragnarok, Coco or Star Wars: Episode VIII (all Disney studio films) due to lack of access.
The L.A. Times statement reads:
The annual Holiday Movie Sneaks section published by the Los Angeles Times typically includes features on movies from all major studios, reflecting the diversity of films Hollywood offers during the holidays, one of the busiest box-office periods of the year. This year, Walt Disney Co. studios declined to offer The Times advance screenings, citing what it called unfair coverage of its business ties with Anaheim. The Times will continue to review and cover Disney movies and programs when they are available to the public.
L.A. Times writer Glenn Whipp told the Washington Post that Disney cut off the paper’s entertainment writers from the studio media sites. Whipp also claims, “We’ve been told that we will not be able to review or have any access to the filmmakers or the people who made those movies.”
The original investigative report that upset Disney execs cites the company’s “aggressive strategies” in deals designed to keep the city in its pocket:
Disney has negotiated these pacts with a carrot-and-stick approach — one that has often included the company’s threat of directing its investment dollars elsewhere. The agreements have spurred development of billion-dollar projects, including the California Adventure theme park and the forthcoming Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge area at Disneyland.
The Burbank company masterfully works the political system, sometimes deploying aggressive strategies that belie its carefully cultivated image. Support for various deals benefiting Disney has come from Anaheim City Council members who have received generous campaign contributions through a byzantine network of political action committees funded by the company.
Whipp referenced Disney Chairman/CEO Robert Iger’s political future in a series of tweets:
Disney has yet to respond to WaPo’s request for comment.
In 2014, L.A. Times writer Amy Kaufman said ABC (a Disney entity) imposed a similar ban on her because of her Bachelorette coverage, which she said they deemed “too negative.”