Brand Blunder #84: Disney’s media miff backfires

The Walt Disney Company has learned the hard way how not to suppress bad news coverage.

In an effort to punish The Los Angeles Times, which had published reports critical of Disney’s dealings with the Anaheim government, Disney barred the newspaper’s reporters from advance screenings of its films.

However, as news of the ban spread among journalists and critics associations, many decided to stand in solidarity with the L.A. Times

The Washington Post’s pop-culture writer, Alyssa Rosenberg, announced she would neither attend advance screenings of Disney’s films, nor publish reviews of them. Following suit, 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 then jointly announced that Disney’s films would be disqualified from consideration for their year-end awards.

“Disney’s actions are antithetical to the principles of a free press and set a dangerous precedent in a time of already heightened hostility towards journalists,” their statement said.

As the tsunami of pushback gathered momentum, Disney retracted its ban.  In a statement published on Deadline, they said “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.”

Ironically, as noted by Charlie May in Salon, some of Disney’s most profitable films haven’t been greatly impacted by reviews, thanks to audiences guaranteed by well-established franchises.

That made Disney’s fit of pique even more unnecessarily self-defeating.


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