Ava DuVernay — the director of Disney’s much-awaited, March 2018 adaptation of Disney’s “A Wrinkle in Time” — announced her support of a growing press boycott of the studio’s advance screenings, stemming from The LA Times’ November 3 disclosure that Disney retaliated for the newspaper’s business journalism by denying access to its pop culture critics.
Saluting the film journalists standing up for one another. Standing with you. https://t.co/M9Fs22vv4L
— Ava DuVernay (@ava) November 7, 2017
On November 6, writers from four publications allied themselves with the Times, refusing to attend advanced Disney press screenings while the studio blackballs the California newspaper. According to statements posted by film editors of The A.V. Club and Flavorwire on their respective websites, their staffs will refrain from reviewing movies made by Disney and subsidiaries Marvel and Lucasfilm until their theatrical debuts. Individual critics are also following suit: The Washington Post’s Alyssa Rosenberg was the first to publicly vow solidarity in an op-ed, and The Boston Globe’s Ty Burr tweeted that he and his colleagues will skip advance screenings and mull over Disney reviews on “a case by case basis for the time being.”
Additionally, the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, the New York Film Critics Circle (chaired by IndieWire’s Eric Kohn), the Boston Society of Film Critics, and the National Society of Film Critics released a joint statement today “denounc[ing] the Walt Disney Company’s media blackout of the Los Angeles Times” and “disqualify[ing] Disney’s films from year-end awards consideration until said blackout is publicly rescinded.”
Each of these critics associations has its own annual awards ceremonies, with voting taking place between November 30 (the New York Film Critics Circle) and January 6 (the National Society of Film Critics). The statement criticized Disney for “set[ting] a dangerous precedent in a time of already heightened hostility toward journalists.”
Meanwhile, the executive board of the Television Critics Association followed with its own statement: “The Television Critics Association understands that screeners and coverage opportunities are a privilege and not a right, but we condemn any circumstance in which a company takes punitive action against journalists for doing their job.” A source inside the Times told IndieWire that the newspaper’s television team had lost the ability to access the press sites of Disney-owned networks amid the ban.
The Times scrambled to fill a “Thor: Ragnarok”-sized hole in its Friday edition and subsequent space in its weekend Holiday Movie Sneaks package when critics were barred from early Disney screenings; Times employees were told by at least one Disney publicist that the companies’ working partnership had been indefinitely “put on pause” following a late-September series authored by Times reporter Daniel Miller on the ties between Disney and Disneyland’s home city of Anaheim, California. The employees were told not to expect opportunities to publish day-of-release reviews of “Thor: Ragnarok,” “Coco,” and “Star Wars: Episode VIII — The Last Jedi.”
In February 2016, it was announced that with “A Wrinkle in Time,” DuVernay would become the first female director of color to helm a film with a budget exceeding $100 million. Based on the 1962 fantasy novel by Madeline L’Engle, the movie stars Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon, Mindy Kaling, Chris Pine, and 14-year-old Storm Reid. DuVernay earned an Oscar this year for directing the documentary feature “13th.”