4 Critics Groups Denounce Disney’s Blackout of LA Times, Disqualify Studio From Awards

National Society of Film Critics join groups from L.A., New York and Boston in protest

Update: Disney has “agreed to restore access” to L.A. Times critics for advance screenings of its films.

The National Society of Film Critics joined the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, the New York Film Critics Circle and the Boston Society of Film Critics in denouncing the Walt Disney Company’s media blackout of the Los Angeles Times announced last week in retaliation for critical stories by the paper.

In addition, all four groups voted to disqualify Disney’s films from year-end awards consideration until the blackout is publicly lifted.

On Nov. 3, the L.A. Times announced 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 dealings with the city of Anaheim.

According to a joint statement by the four critics groups, “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.”

The statement concluded, “Disney’s response should gravely concern all who believe in the importance of a free press, artists included.”

On Monday, the A.V. Club website and Washington Post critic at large Alyssa Rosenberg announced they would boycott Disney screenings until the L.A. Times was allowed to attend them as well.

A rep from Disney did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Disney has lately focused its movie slate on blockbusters from Marvel, Lucasfilm, its animated division as well as live-action adaptations of classics like “Beauty and the Beast.”

Aside from possible animated film consideration for this month’s Pixar release “Coco,” it was not expected to factor into this year’s awards season.

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.

Jeremy Fuster contributed to this report.