Why critics were boycotting the new Star Wars film before its release [updated]

The studio was upset with the newspaper's coverage of its business practices and banned it from advance screenings

Christopher Hooton@christophhooton
Tuesday 07 November 2017 16:35
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Star Wars: The Last Jedi teaser

UPDATE 8.15pm ET: Disney has lifted the ban amid increasing boycotts.

"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," it said in a statement.

A growing number of film journalists are boycotting advance screenings of Star Wars: The Last Jedi and other Disney films after the studio blocked critics from the Los Angeles Times from them in order to punish the newspaper over an unfavourable report into its business operations.

The Washington Post's pop culture writer Alyssa Rosenberg started the boycott, writing in her column: "As long as Disney is blocking the critics from the Los Angeles Times from press screenings, I can’t in good conscience attend similar showings or write reviews in advance."

The A.V. Club's AA Dowd and Flavorwire's Jason Bailey followed suit, and members of 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 issued a statement Tuesday morning denouncing Disney’s press blackout.

Influential CNN anchor Jake Tapper, meanwhile, tweeted: "I just took out a subscription to the @LATimes in honor of Disney boycotting the newspaper because it engaged in journalism," and Ava DuVernay, who is directing upcoming Disney film A Wrinkle in Time, said she "stands with" the journalists.

Disney's tantrum has turned into a PR disaster, stemming from two investigative pieces written by Daniel Miller in the LA Times alleging that Disney has been pressuring the city of Anaheim, California intro providing it with subsidies, incentives, and rebates.

Disney can't, of course, stop LA Times staff from seeing the films at cinemas, but in blacklisting them from advance screenings it is trying to withhold the crucial jump that film journalists need.

The Independent has reached out to Disney for comment.

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