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Film critics bar Disney from awards over LA Times dispute

FILE - In this Dec. 22, 2004, file photo, visitors gather in front of Cinderella's Castle to watch Mickey and Minnie Mouse during the Christmas parade at Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. Disneyland, the original theme park, opened in 1955. Company founder Walt Disney oversaw its construction on a 65-hectare (160-acre) orange farm in what was then a semi-rural part of Orange County. The park’s original four themed areas - Fantasyland, Frontierland, Adventureland and Tomorrowland - were later joined by Critter Country and New Orleans Square. A Star Wars-themed expansion is in the works. (AP Photo/Peter Cosgrove, File)

Four prominent film critics groups announced Tuesday that they will bar Walt Disney Co. films from receiving awards consideration until the company reverses its decision to bar the Los Angeles Times from advance screenings of its films and access to its talent.

The move by 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 comes after editors of the Times said Friday that Disney denied the newspaper access to its upcoming slate of films over what it called "unfair coverage" of the Disneyland Resort's relationship with the city of Anaheim. Upcoming Disney films include "Thor: Ragnarok," ?Coco" and "Star Wars: The Last Jedi." The Times says it will review and cover Disney films when they become available to the public.

In a joint statement released early Tuesday, the critics groups noted that it was "admittedly extraordinary" to "take any action that might penalize film artists for decisions beyond their control."

"But Disney brought forth this action when it chose to punish The Times' journalists rather than express its disagreement with a business story via ongoing public discussion," the statement continued. "Disney's response should gravely concern all who believe in the importance of a free press, artists included."

A Disney spokesman didn't immediately respond to a request for comment Tuesday.

The statement comes after some critics and organizations said they wouldn't provide advance reviews of Disney films in protest of the company's response to the Times.

Also Tuesday, the executive board of the Television Critics Association, a group of more than 200 print and online journalists who cover TV, rebuked Disney's move.

The 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 jobs," the board said in a statement.

Washington Post critic-at-large Alyssa Rosenberg wrote Monday that she would "show solidarity" with Times critics by seeing movies "under the same condition they do." She added that she was speaking as an individual and "The Post has not taken a decision to participate in any boycott." Two pop culture websites, the A.V. Club and Flavorwire, made similar announcements Monday. Flavorwire went a step further, stating it wouldn't cover any Disney releases "as long as the Times ban stands."

The company said Friday that a two-part Times series in September that detailed what it characterized as a complicated and increasingly tense relationship between Anaheim and the company showed "a complete disregard for basic journalistic standards." It added that the Times published a "biased and inaccurate series, wholly driven by a political agenda."

Daniel Miller, the Times reporter who wrote the series, tweeted that "Disney never asked for a correction." The newspaper declined further comment.

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