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Disney Ends Ban on Los Angeles Times Following Backlash

Following a growing backlash, the Walt Disney Co. has ended its ban on the Los Angeles Times from press screenings of its movies.

“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,” a Disney spokesperson said Tuesday.

Disney did not elaborate on the statement. Ross Levinsohn, a veteran media executive who worked at Fox and served as interim chief of Yahoo, was named publisher and chief executive of the news organization in August.

Five critics groups had blasted the studio’s media blackout of the newspaper and pledged to disqualify Disney’s films from awards consideration until the blackout was lifted.

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 jointly issued the statement Tuesday morning. The Toronto Film Critics Association joined the boycott on Tuesday as well. The New York Times and filmmaker Ava Duvernay also issued statements of support on Tuesday.

A continued boycott by critics groups and other showbusiness organizations could have carried widespread consequences for Disney during awards season. Disney’s contenders include its live-action “Beauty and the Beast,” “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2,” animated films “Cars 3” and “Coco,” and the upcoming “Star Wars: The Last Jedi.”

The controversy emerged on Nov. 3 when newspaper explained that the studio’s films such as “Thor: Ragnarok” were not included in its holiday movie preview because of Disney’s refusal to offer advance screenings in response to a two-part series that the Times published that examined the business relationship between the company’s flagship California theme park, Disneyland, and the city of Anaheim.

Disney responded the same day by alleging that the Times “showed a complete disregard for basic journalistic standards” in its coverage of Anaheim and Disneyland.

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