Disney is banning the Los Angeles Times from attending advanced screenings of their movies. As a southern California newspaper, in addition to publishing film criticism, the Times frequently covers Disneyland Resort and Disney California Adventure, as well as how both parks affect the city of Anaheim. And in September, they published an article that painted Disney in a bad light, and the Mouse House challenged their outlook.
The article posited that Disney Parks & Resorts wasn't paying its fair share to the city. For instance, the report stated that the city of Anaheim built and owns the parking garages that Disney uses for its resorts, for which Disney charges $20 for each vehicle entry, yet the city leases the garage to the company for only $1 a year. The Times also indicated that Disneyland is currently seeing its first major opposition from the city council as well as from the mayor for the first time in its 62-year history, for a variety of reasons, and that's something that they directly refuted in a letter to the paper, stating: "Disneyland Resort has played a pivotal role in Anaheim as a job creator and economic engine." However, that letter didn't go far enough.
The Times annually publishes a Holiday Movie Preview, and this year, Disney isn't on that list because the paper was reportedly barred for their "unfair coverage of [Disney's] business ties with Anaheim." The Mouse House traditionally screens their films for the press approximately one week to one month, if not longer, in advance of the film hitting theaters, but now, the LA Times won't be part of that press list going forward, at least for the foreseeable future.
Update: Disney has issued a statement on the matter (via THR):
"We regularly work with news organizations around the world that we don't always agree with, but in this instance the L.A. Times showed a complete disregard for basic journalistic standards. Despite our sharing numerous indisputable facts with the reporter, several editors, and the publisher over many months, the Times moved forward with a biased and inaccurate series, wholly driven by a political agenda — so much so that the Orange County Register referred to the report as 'a hit piece' with a 'seemingly predetermined narrative.' We've had a long relationship with the L.A. Times, and we hope they will adhere to balanced reporting in the future."
The decision on Disney's part begs many questions. If an outlet writes negatively about Walt Disney Studios or any of its sister divisions, will the Mouse House blacklist that outlet, as well? While Disney doesn't pay critics, as many people continue to imply, this news could worry outlets that may not agree with all their decisions. What's more, the LA Times is one of the oldest and most respected newspapers in the country, not a personal blog or YouTube review channel. So, to ban them from advanced screenings due to an investigative piece about their theme park unit and its connection with Anaheim, which is unrelated to their movie division, is concerning, to say the least.
Of course, there could be more to this story that's not available to the general public, so it's possible that there's another reason for Disney's decision to reportedly blacklist the LA Times. But considering that the Times specifically said that Disney cited their unfair coverage as the reason for banning them, perhaps what's on the surface is all there really is.
Source: LA Times