Four major critics orgs — 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 — have declared solidarity with the L.A. Times over the Walt Disney corporation’s recent decision to not screen its films for that daily’s reviewers and writers, and themselves will not nominate Disney films for any critics awards until the L.A. Times screening blackout is rescinded.
The critics org declaration dooms any remote chance that may have existed that Star Wars: The Last Jedi might be considered or even talked up as a Best Picture contender. Over the waterfall, out of mind.
The critics groups are not boycotting Last Jedi screenings as a group effort. That decision is up to individual journalist-critics. The critics orgs are simply deeming Disney films ineligible for their awards. And yet Star Wars: The Last Jedi is irrelevant to the New York Film Critics in this context because it won’t screen in time for their 11.30 voting date.
HE opinion: If critics really want to pressure Disney on the L.A. Times behalf, they should decline en masse to review Star Wars: The Last Jedi until this dispute is resolved.
In any event Rian Johnson‘s potential award portfolio is hereby black toast. At least for the time being.
“We jointly denounce the Walt Disney Company’s media blackout of the Los Angeles Times,” the four critics groups said in a statement released this morning. “Furthermore, all four critics’ organizations have voted to disqualify Disney’s films from year-end awards consideration until said blackout is publicly rescinded.”
Disney’s decision not to cooperate with the L.A. Times on a fall-holiday preview spread or otherwise screen Star Wars: The Last Jedi was announced on 11.3.
Disney did so in brute retaliation for a 9.24 L.A. Times article about Disney’s business dealings with the city of Anaheim.
Hollywood Elsewhere boldly joins at least some critics out there in respectfully declining to attend screenings of Star Wars: The Last Jedi until this matter is amicably resolved. That’ll show ’em.
The next shoe to drop would be, I could imagine, a refusal of Disney to run ads with the L.A. Times, or perhaps an attempt to get tough with the publications allied with the critics who signed this morning’s statement.
“On Nov. 3, The Times published a statement that its writers and editors had been blocked from attending advance screenings of Disney films, in response to The Times’ news coverage of Disney’s business arrangements with the City of Anaheim,” this morning’s statement begins. “Disney’s actions, which include an indefinite ban on any interaction with The Times, are antithetical to the principles of a free press and set a dangerous precedent in a time of already heightened hostility toward journalists.
“It is admittedly extraordinary for a critics’ group, let alone four critics’ groups, 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.
“Disney’s response should gravely concern all who believe in the importance of a free press, artists included.”
The New York Film Critics Circle will vote on its annual awards Thursday, Nov. 30; the Los Angeles Film Critics Association will vote Sunday, Dec. 3; the Boston Society of Film Critics will vote Sunday, Dec. 10; and the National Society of Film Critics will vote Saturday, Jan. 6.
The statement was signed by Claudia Puig, President, Los Angeles Film Critics Association; Eric Kohn, Chair, New York Film Critics Circle; Tom Meek, President, Boston Society of Film Critics; and Liz Weis, Executive Director, National Society of Film Critics.