Disney Bans LA Times Writers From Advance Screenings In Response To Negative Articles

from the charm-offensive dept

Once again, Disney has decided to sacrifice goodwill for brand perception. Not content to limit itself to sending C&Ds to kids' birthday party performers, Disney's latest act of self-savagery has resulted in backlash from several top journalistic entities.

Back in September, the LA Times dug into Disney's supremely cosy relationship with Anaheim's government -- one that has produced years of subsidies, incentives, and tax shelters for the entertainment giant. Disney wasn't happy with the report, so it responded the way any rational company would: it issued a statement stating the articles were full of errors and claimed the LA Times "showed a complete disregard for basic journalistic standards." (Despite these claims, Disney has yet to ask for corrections to the LA Times' investigative articles.)

Then it responded the way any irrational company would: by locking LA Times reviewers out of advance movie screenings.

The Los Angeles Times had made Disney’s blackout public in a note to readers last week that explained why no feature articles about Disney movies appeared in its 2017 holiday movie preview section. Disney also did not give The Times early access to “Thor: Ragnarok” so that it could prepare a review in time for its Friday opening.

This resulted in the sort of thing Disney should have expected. Critics groups and several large newspapers showed their support for the LA Times by refusing to attend Disney movie screenings. The critics groups also announced they would not consider any Disney films for awards until the ban was lifted. But what likely hurt Disney the most was the show of support from powerful Hollywood figures, one of which -- Ava DuVernay -- has a movie slated to be released by Disney next March.

Thanks to the swift, strong backlash, Disney has now rescinded its ban. But you won't be hearing Disney admit to being wrong. Instead, it's still trying to portray the LA Times as the sole transgressor in this debacle.

“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.

Yep. Nothing to do with the backlash prompted by its bullshit move. Instead, it's all about a recent regime change and some "productive discussions." And the entertainment giant has nothing to say about its stupidly punitive actions resulting in more attention being drawn to the LA Times articles it disagrees with. There's not much that's more counterproductive than attempting to punish news outlets for delivering news. Even if the news outlet is in the wrong, there's nothing to be gained from refusing to be the adult in the room.


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  • identicon
    Jordan Chandler, 7 Nov 2017 @ 3:38pm

    Old news

    Disney has already backtracked. if you're going to be the last news site to report something, at least have the latest info...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), 7 Nov 2017 @ 3:48pm

    It was nice to see other sites stand up to the bully.
    I guess Disney figured out that no press at all could hurt their bottom line.
    They need the nice reviews to get people to want to spend way to much for their feet to stick to the floor and their ears to ring for 3 hours after.
    Playing the we didn't like how you reported on what we are doing, so we're taking our ball & its gonna hurt you!!! didn't work out how they planned.

    You have to take the good with the bad, and if you don't like reporting on the bad... don't do bad things maybe?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      JoeCool (profile), 7 Nov 2017 @ 5:58pm

      Re:

      It's more than "don't do bad things." Disney is in the entertainment business, and it is LITERALLY IMPOSSIBLE to make entertainment that some segment of the market won't like. In fact, much of it won't appeal to MOST people. So you'll ALWAYS have critics bad-mouthing you over something, and you just have to put up with it.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Andy, 8 Nov 2017 @ 2:55am

      Re:

      I would have liked to have seen the newspapers decide that they would punish Disney by not reviewing any of there creations for month. 1 Month would show Disney that they should never ever mess with the media unless they are 100% sure of there side of the argument.

      The media has more than enough reason to do this as Disney has not learnt there lesson obviously taking responsibility for there actions and this type of case will most definitely happen again in a few years when people have forgotten this story.

      What grinds my goat is that Disney is supposed to be a family business yet they are amongst the worst when it comes to families.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      ANON, 8 Nov 2017 @ 7:00am

      Re:

      Disney finds that taking your ball and going home means they don't get to play ball, but then you're not playing ball either. It's a two-way street.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    John Snape, 7 Nov 2017 @ 3:49pm

    How is this any different from YouTube or Twitter banning users? If they don't like the LA Times, why should they have to allow them into their screenings? Private company should be able to block anyone they want.

    The first amendment only applies to the government.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Thad, 7 Nov 2017 @ 4:35pm

      Re:

      How is this any different from YouTube or Twitter banning users? If they don't like the LA Times, why should they have to allow them into their screenings? Private company should be able to block anyone they want.

      Yes. And other private companies have the right to retaliate by boycotting Disney. Other papers can choose not to attend pre-screenings. Critics' associations can choose to disqualify Disney movies from awards considerations.

      The first amendment only applies to the government.

      Who said anything about the First Amendment?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        John Snape, 7 Nov 2017 @ 4:58pm

        Re: Re:

        Yes, PragerU and others who complain about YouTube and Twitter should just take it and shut up (at least according to comments on stories here lately), but we must force Disney to submit to our demands!

        Double standard? Got it.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 7 Nov 2017 @ 5:41pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          I must be missing the part where these news organizations filed a lawsuit demanding the government enforce a change upon Disney.

          Or, you're just peddling disingenuous "both sides" nonsense.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            orbitalinsertion (profile), 7 Nov 2017 @ 7:31pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            It may be that we aren't allowed to have opinions regarding the behavior of one side or another (usually seems dependent on who the sides are, or whether someone can just randomly claim something as hypocrisy by ignoring pretty much everything besides some A/B switch in their head). Some people can't manage the concept that we might recognize or defend one's right to speech, but agree or disagree with it, or note that it is a good or bad idea. Arguing against it is some kind of infringement in their eyes.

            It's a double standard for anyone to criticize Disney for criticizing the Times. It's pretty clear whose speech is the only speech which should be protected*, for some reason.

            *In this case, "protected": Accept their, and only their, actions and speech and shut up.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Coyne Tibbets (profile), 7 Nov 2017 @ 8:30pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          That is a bit one-sided. Disney started the row by trying to force LA Times to submit to their demands.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Andy, 8 Nov 2017 @ 3:04am

          Re: Re: Re:

          If there was away for the users of youtube to punish google for there ignorance they would, sadly now that youtube has grown so big they can afford to ignore huge swaths of users....but remember ...youtube could disappear overnight and people are start to use other video websites...and many youtube big users are uploading there content to various websites not just to youtube.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Thad, 8 Nov 2017 @ 10:15am

          Re: Re: Re:

          Yes, PragerU and others who complain about YouTube and Twitter should just take it and shut up (at least according to comments on stories here lately), but we must force Disney to submit to our demands!

          Double standard? Got it.

          What comments? What stories? Who do you mean by "we"? Who are you accusing of having a double-standard?

          In summary, what the fuck are you talking about?

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      John85851 (profile), 8 Nov 2017 @ 9:33am

      Re:

      If you read the article a little closer (and sort-of read between the lines), the events happened like this:
      The LA Times reports about a "too cozy" relationship between Disney, Anaheim, and other city governments that may or may not be corruption.
      Instead of debating the story or presenting evidence to the contrary or even suing for libel, Disney decided to be a child and say "You can't review our movies!".

      (I'm assuming The LA Times has good research and legal departments that cleared the story to prevent Disney from suing for libel.)

      Sure, Disney has every right to ban whomever it wants, but if the issue is about an article in a newspaper, then at least be adult about things and explain why the article is wrong. Then the issue would get more coverage and Disney could explain their side of things.
      Unless the story is true and they don't want to explain anything... hmm...

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Toom1275 (profile), 7 Nov 2017 @ 3:50pm

    Just like how game companies blacklist critics like Jim Sterling for daring to give them any sort of actual criticism.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 7 Nov 2017 @ 4:41pm

      Re:

      Can you imagine Bethesda being denied awards from the VGA for refusing to send out review copies? The game journalists need to watch each others back.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 7 Nov 2017 @ 6:53pm

      Re:

      Pretty sure Jim Sterling at least considers such moves the equivalent of an award. 'I pissed them off enough that they went out of their way to tell me how much they don't like me' sort of thing, and it's not like it stops him from talking about them, so win-win.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 7 Nov 2017 @ 3:50pm

    This is kinda the reason why I hate the fact that so many companies do everything they can to hoover up tons of other companies and properties.

    I >love< superheroes, adore comics, and am a big marvel fan. (I like DC plenty too, but tend to prefer Marvel for most things.)...

    Only now the success or failure of franchises and properties I adore aren't reliant on the people who I know and trust to deliver... they are tarnished by the actions of a megaconglomerate that frequently makes horrible decisions for the sake of pure greed.

    I'm not saying Marvel never did anything deplorable in persuit of things like IP protection... frankly I've heard that there were legal threats and battles over a trademark of the term 'superhero' which is absolutely stupid...

    But I've seen this happen way to often with video game publishers. They see a group being successful, absorb that group, make a ton of changes and demands and PR disasters, and basically destroy that group!

    In short.... I hate that Disney owns Marvel and a movie I am really looking forward to is having it's chances in the box-office screwed with by it's parent company.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 8 Nov 2017 @ 9:53am

      Re:

      The more companies that are merged, the less likely that the people who are actually delivering will be kept around. They're too expensive to pay for their tenure, so the company will hire people who are cheaper and less experienced in making successful things.

      This is the cancer that unbridled greed from shareholders has brought to capitalism and I see no easy way of solving it.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile), 7 Nov 2017 @ 4:57pm

    Dear Disney

    Please, please, please send me a C&D notice, but not for pre-screenings, but for the actual releases of any of your products (which includes ESPN and all your other associated properties). I can promise you that I will not pay, in any way shape or form that is within my ability to withhold, anything that you produce.

    That does not mean that I won't see any of your properties, because I won't necessarily preclude watching some of your productions that are handed to me or are available on someone else's video reproduction equipment.

    Just like you treated the Brothers Grimm, the whole concept of copyright as written in the US Constitution and likely other abuses.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 7 Nov 2017 @ 6:47pm

    A bit of an aside, but I still can't figure out why Anaheim would give Disney tax breaks. Disneyland has been in Anaheim for over sixty years. What are they gonna do, pack up and move?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 7 Nov 2017 @ 7:51pm

      Re:

      I hadn't heard of this Anaheim corruption before today. Good of Disney to bring it back to the spotlight.

      The stated concern is that Disney will direct more money to non-Anaheim parks if Anaheim doesn't help them. I don't believe that. Disney's got a shitload of cash and they know the improvements will only increase their profits. And they're greedy, so why not upgrade all the parks and get all the money?

      Their discontent with Anaheim goes back a long way though. There, they've bought about half the government, but in Florida they straight-up formed their own government, as the article notes.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 7 Nov 2017 @ 7:36pm

    I too was banned for negative reviews!

    Of Techdirt, which banned my home IP address. I'm forced to use TOR.

    I don't strain to find these similarities, they're obvious from the wronged side.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 7 Nov 2017 @ 7:47pm

      Re: I too was banned for negative reviews!

      ok.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile), 7 Nov 2017 @ 7:52pm

      Re: I too was banned for negative reviews!

      As a self proclaimed TOR user, you should know more about how TOR works. Getting to know your home IP address via TOR is sometimes possible, but extremely difficult, and likely beyond the capabilities of Techdirt. Also, as much as a pain as you are, not worth their time or the expense required to actually find your home IP.

      What they might see is the IP of your exit node, which is also the possible IP of much spam, and if an IP address has been blocked (which I doubt, though the spam filter might think differently) it is the IP address of the exit node. Try a different exit node, and if you can find one, one that spammers don't use, or start your own.

      Further, it is not likely that it is negative reviews that causes anyone to filter you, it is much more likely your insults, lack of logic, and misinformed points of view, the results of which are done by the community via flagging, which means your comments are minimized but still readable. And you know all that, but still claim otherwise.

      I do enjoy your butt hurt though.

      BTW, TOR has a new vulnerability, announced last week. You should update.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 8 Nov 2017 @ 6:03am

        Re: Re: I too was banned for negative reviews!

        As a self proclaimed TOR user, you should know more about how TOR works. Getting to know your home IP address via TOR is sometimes possible, but extremely difficult, and likely beyond the capabilities of Techdirt.

        The person you're replying to said their home address got banned, and now they're using Tor (to work around the ban, likely). The actual unrealistic implication is that Techdirt read a negative review somewhere, figured out the IP address that posted it, and banned it from Techdirt.

        BTW, TOR has a new vulnerability, announced last week. You should update.

        That was Tor Browser.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 7 Nov 2017 @ 8:34pm

      ... nope, still a windmill

      Keeping telling yourself that's the reason, maybe one day you'll believe it yourself if you don't already, because I highly doubt you're convincing anyone else.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      techflaws (profile), 7 Nov 2017 @ 9:47pm

      Re: I too was banned for negative reviews!

      Obviously nothing of value was lost.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Narcissus (profile), 8 Nov 2017 @ 12:28am

      Re: I too was banned for negative reviews!

      And, like the movie critics, all other TechDirt commenters could've come together and protested it, for example by not commenting anymore. Perhaps that would've led to TD reinstating you.

      I think if you had anything of value to offer instead of rage-commenting on every singe article without offering any additional argumentation, they might have. Especially if they weren't still confronted with your comments anyway, which mostly amount to: "I am being censored boohooo!!!"

      If I thought it would help I would advice you to engage in the hardest of all activities, self reflection.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 8 Nov 2017 @ 12:38am

      Re: I too was banned for negative reviews!

      Yeah that’s nice and all. But do you remember the time you literally begged TD to not flag you?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 8 Nov 2017 @ 3:40am

      Re: I too was banned for negative reviews!

      Spam != reviews. Try again.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Ninja (profile), 8 Nov 2017 @ 7:37am

      Re: I too was banned for negative reviews!

      [I'm really, really sad for you.](http://i0.kym-cdn.com/photos/images/masonry/000/325/428/264.jpg)

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    dickeyrat (profile), 8 Nov 2017 @ 9:18am

    So what's new?

    No real surprises here from Disney...although it is amusing to see them roll over so quickly. Disney has long been a Fascist enclave, long before Trump & Co. They systematically picked out long-term ABC employees for harassment & eventual firing, after that takeover, just to show they could. (I saw it happen to me and others.) Disney has been in bed with the City of Anaheim for many decades. I remember around 1999, when an unfortunate park visitor was actually decapitated by an out-of-control yardarm on a "Pirates of the Caribbean" play-ship. Anaheim officials dutifully cleaned up the entire scene before CalOSHA state investigators had a chance to do their jobs. Of course, the Disney rats escaped all scrutiny beyond a tongue-lashing for that, and spent wads of money to their team of lawyers, to prove the accident was somehow the fault of the deceased. Disney is comprised of fascist bastards, many of whom did their job interviews on their knees under tables. In a way I'm disappointed to see them cave; I wanted to see how badly their bullshit movies would tank without any critical review or support.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 8 Nov 2017 @ 5:40pm

    We will have to submit for now Smithers. But one day, when we control our privatized police force, we shall have vengeance!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Nov 2017 @ 3:36pm

    Disney now spreads gay propaganda to children.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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