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» Film-Tech Forum   » Community   » Film-Yak   » Disney bars L.A. Times film coverage after critical piece

   
Author Topic: Disney bars L.A. Times film coverage after critical piece
Frank Cox
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 - posted 11-03-2017 11:26 PM      Profile for Frank Cox   Author's Homepage   Email Frank Cox   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Disney bars L.A. Times film coverage after critical piece
quote:
In response to a Los Angeles Times series about the relationship between the Walt Disney Co. and the city of Anaheim, the company is barring the paper from advance screenings of its films.

The editors of the Times said Friday that Disney declined access for the paper's holiday film preview citing "unfair coverage" of its business ties with Anaheim. Upcoming Disney films include Thor: Ragnarok and Star Wars: The Last Jedi.

The paper ran a two-part series in late September looking into what it characterized as a complicated and increasingly tense relationship between the city and the Disneyland Resort. The Times says it will review and cover Disney films when they become available to the public.

Disney representatives did not immediately respond to request for comment.


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Leo Enticknap
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quote: Article
The Times says it will review and cover Disney films when they become available to the public.
Correction: when they can find somewhere to download or stream a pirate copy from, at which point they will gleefully print a scathing review, peppered with plot spoilers.

As for the LA Times article that Disney are so p****d off about, this sort of thing happens all the time in "company towns," in which one organization accounts for most of the jobs and economic activity within a given municipality. The company has the city over a barrel, and the city knows it.

University towns are among the worst, in my experience, especially when the relationship becomes so incestuous that the college starts dreaming up and enforcing what are in effect local laws, even on the minority of residents who do not work or study at the place.

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Frank Angel
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Notre Dame and South Bend. Notorious is the right word. On the other hand, unfair and nasty can run in both directions. One unflattering article by the paper will soon be forgotten, but the animosity the paper will have against Disney will last a long time. The Rodent might want to think twice about taking such a precipitous movie against a newspaper. As you point out, Leo, this can get viscous pretty fast. You would think a media giant like Disney would understand it's better to bite the bullet and play nice rather than make enemies. Although I am not sure in this day and age how much influence newspaper movie reviews really have on attendance. Will a bad review of STAR WARS in the LA Times kill off audiences? Ten twenty years ago, perhaps; not sure it would make a hill of beans today, even if they got a stream copy. Intentional spoilers, on the other hand, could be litigious, and you don't want to get into court with the Rodent.

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Mike Blakesley
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I read over the first of the two articles, which are really long. The base gripe Anaheim has is, they are a small city with limited money for buying negotiating talent, against a gigantic company with unlimited resources. Thus, Disney seems to get the better end of "deals" between the city and the company, and Disney usually seems to get what it wants when it comes to tax breaks and other concessions.

Anaheim should just take a look at where they'd be if Disney didn't continue to invest in its attractions. They could conceivably turn Disneyland into a giant mall and move to some other city, if they really wanted to.

Another semi-unrelated thought, based on the photo accompanying part 1 of the article, is that Disney should seriously trim down the trees around Sleeping Beauty Castle. Those trees now dwarf the castle, and have destroyed its "forced perspective," making it look more like a fancy suburban house in a grove of trees, rather than the regal structure it's supposed to be.

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Marcel Birgelen
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quote: Mike Blakesley
Anaheim should just take a look at where they'd be if Disney didn't continue to invest in its attractions. They could conceivably turn Disneyland into a giant mall and move to some other city, if they really wanted to.
Well, it would take quite some billions to implement such a move and since they're investing hundreds upon hundreds of millions in new expansions right now, it isn't really on the horizon. Eventually though, they might just have to do such a move, because there's no real room to grow anymore and the infrastructure around the park is already pretty much overloaded.

Still, their considerable leverage should not serve as an indemnity for them to do whatever they want to do. This doesn't only apply to a city like Anaheim, which 99% of the populace only know because of the House of the Mouse... or Rodent if you so please, but it also applies to the exhibition business. The Walt Disney Company isn't just one of the many movie studios anymore, they command a vast empire. There needs to be some counterweight to avoid this empire from turning from the grey side (or brown side if you so please) to the dark side.

quote: Mike Blakesley
Another semi-unrelated thought, based on the photo accompanying part 1 of the article, is that Disney should seriously trim down the trees around Sleeping Beauty Castle. Those trees now dwarf the castle, and have destroyed its "forced perspective," making it look more like a fancy suburban house in a grove of trees, rather than the regal structure it's supposed to be.
The last time they cut those trees down to more or less original proportions was probably during their 50th anniversary celebrations, where the mission was to get much of the park back to the "original" look.

I guess the nostalgic value of this original, somewhat smallish "castle" are pretty much up there in the clouds. You can probably consider it equal to a UNESCO World Heritage site. So any large modifications to that central icon Walt built are probably out of the question.

Then again, nothing at Disney seems to be sacred, so they could technically pull off the same they're planning to do in Hong Kong. Hong Kong got a carbon copy of the Anaheim castle and they're going to extend it by essentially building a larger one behind it.

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Leo Enticknap
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quote: Marcel Birgelen
This doesn't only apply to a city like Anaheim, which 99% of the populace only know because of the House of the Mouse...
The curious thing here is that without the mousehole, Anaheim wouldn't exactly be the ghetto. The Orange County / Riverside County border area is relatively prosperous and suburban. It's along my commute, and the traffic jams (among the world's worst) on the 57, 91 and 5 freeways linking it to the outside world attest to the fact that most of the people who work there don't live there, and vice-versa.

The original prototype for Disneyland was at their Burbank lot, but the decision to build it in Anaheim was driven by the fact that in those days, it was a lot further south than anyone working in the LA metro wanted or needed to commute, and so the land was cheap (but the 405 was about to be built, and so Disney knew that the transport links to it were about to get a lot better). Disney figured that the place itself would attract people to travel there. Half a century later, that entire area along the coast and about 20 miles inland, effectively from south LA all the way to around Dana Point, is a dormitory town for LA workers who are pretty well off, but not well enough off to live in leafy Ventura County, or making the megabucks needed for Westwood or Santa Monica. There is some high tech industry clustered around John Wayne Airport, but not enough to account for all the residential development.

So if Disneyland closed tomorrow, I'm sure that the city would have no problem whatsoever replacing it with property tax-paying, upper middle income households. I could understand the stranglehold that the mouse is alleged to have over the city if it was in San Bernardino or Barstow, but am a bit puzzled at that dynamic existing in that place.

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Mike Blakesley
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I can think of one thing helping with that stranglehold: Taxes. Specifically, sales taxes and property taxes. I would bet that if Disneyland was leveled and replaced with a few hundred houses, they would pay less in property tax than the Mouse brings in with their gargantuan sales. (There's probably a lodging tax there too, eh?)

The other big thing is: Jobs. According to Quora, DL has about 23,000 jobs. All of which result in .... more taxes.

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Marcel Birgelen
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quote: Leo Enticknap
So if Disneyland closed tomorrow, I'm sure that the city would have no problem whatsoever replacing it with property tax-paying, upper middle income households. I could understand the stranglehold that the mouse is alleged to have over the city if it was in San Bernardino or Barstow, but am a bit puzzled at that dynamic existing in that place.
I'm pretty sure Anaheim will not collapse into a ghetto, even if the Mouse would pack it's bags and move somewhere else. Still, like Mike already mentioned, there's more to it than just property tax. The sales tax and the gigantic amount of jobs it creates in the area, both direct and indirect.

You see the same situation in another urban area, alas not yet as crowded as Anaheim. The city of Marne-la-Vallée, the Parisian suburb where Disneyland Paris is located, has a similar relationship with Disney. On the one hand it provides a lot of jobs, taxes and also quite some prestige. But on the other hand, it brings quite some troubles to the neighborhood, ranging from noise pollution to enormous loads of extra traffic. Also, Disney got quite some exemptions once they signed the deal to built in France, combined with their creative Hollywood accounting pay almost zero taxes.

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Bobby Henderson
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What kinds of pay & benefits do jobs in Disneyland provide? I don't know exactly how high living costs are in Anaheim, but I imagine the average rent & mortgage costs along with other living expenses are probably pretty high. I think big tax breaks for companies should be tied to what kinds of jobs they're providing. If the jobs amount to low pay, entry level shit jobs that don't improve the property tax base then the company shouldn't be getting any big tax breaks.

"Elite" American metros like Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York are letting things like the price of housing get so far out of hand that many blue collar and service industry workers are literally getting priced out of town.

A large and growing chunk of the homeless population in New York City are working families, which totally runs contrary to the stereotype of homeless people (lazy, on drugs, etc.). These people just aren't making enough to afford the sky high rent prices. NYC has a bigger social safety net than most cities, but its homeless shelters are beyond 100% capacity and the city is putting the overflow into hotels. Neighborhoods with long held combat zone reputations, like the South Bronx and Bedford Stuyvesant in Brooklyn have been going through rapid gentrification. Investors from all over the globe have been flipping entire apartment buildings, using schemes both legal and illegal to get rent-controlled tenants to leave. Crime rates have fallen dramatically. NYC may set a new record low in homicides, perhaps below 300 for 2017. For a city of 8.3 million that's well below the nation's per capita average (just over 5 per 100,000 people). In 1990 the 5 boroughs of NYC had over 2000 murders, with over 1 million fewer people in NYC then. The downside is a potential severe labor shortage in all sorts of blue collar and low level service industry positions. Every city and town needs lots of workers in those kinds of job positions. But if living costs are way too high then it only stands to reason those workers will move to places far less expensive to live.

Cities in Texas still seem to be growing like crazy. Oklahoma could be taking part in that growth, but the idiots running our state government have turned the state's financial situation into a disaster. Public schools year after year have been getting bone-deep budget cuts; teachers, cops, fire fighters and other public service people are moving to other states. That doesn't paint a very inviting picture to business and industry looking to build in the Sooner state, much less people looking for somewhere nice to raise a family.

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Mike Blakesley
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I think the bulk of Disneyland jobs are probably entry-level, college-student type jobs, and a lot of them are part time too, so not a ton of super-high-paying jobs there.

But all those employees are still buying stuff, therefore they're paying sales taxes, gas taxes, and other whatever taxes that exist in California.

I would bet, however, that about 85 or 95% of the tax revenue generated by Disneyland comes in the form of sales taxes paid by the hordes of tourists. Therefore they are just as deserving of "tax breaks" as any other big business is.

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Martin Brooks
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quote: Bobby Henderson
But if living costs are way too high then it only stands to reason those workers will move to places far less expensive to live.
Between 1950 and 1960, NYC lost 110,000 people. It gained it back between 1960 and 1970, but between 1970 and 1980, the city lost 823,000 people due to housing prices, general cost of living, crime, filth, failing infrastructure, poor schools and other factors. That's far more than the current population of Boston. It took until 2000 to gain that population back and NYC has been growing in population ever since with a net gain of 529,000 people between 2000 and July 2016.

The problem is that almost all new housing is being built for the rich, even housing which is called middle-class housing. IMO, an $800,000 2-bedroom apartment is not middle-class housing. Working class people who are either new to the city or have to move are totally screwed. So I think the losses we experienced between 1980 and 2000 can happen again because it's not just a matter of "ordinary" people not being able to live in Manhattan - they really can't live almost anywhere in the city anymore.

There's new housing being built everywhere: there are areas of the city that are virtually unrecognizable from 10-15 years ago, like the west side near the Javits center, the old meat market area around the High Line, Williamsburg, Long Island City and downtown Brooklyn. But almost all of it is for the rich.

And to relate all this back to Film-Tech, in spite of the population increases, we're losing movie theaters. We've lost 26% of the net theater count and 14.4% of the net screen count since 2001. And due to both closings and lounge seating, we've lost 25% of the seats since July of 2012 and 55% of the seats in the last 30 years. In Brooklyn, there are over 33,000 people per screen and over 242,000 per theater.

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Bobby Henderson
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Movie theaters in metro New York are threatened in numerous ways. In recent years some of the closings have been done out of motivation to convert the properties into something more profitable. At least I think that's why the Ziegfeld is gone now, right?

How will the remaining movie theaters be able to operate without all the low level, low wage employees who man the box office, work the snack counter, clean the auditoriums, bathrooms & hallways, do stock work, etc? The same can be asked for all kinds of other service businesses and blue collar businesses. Who in their right mind will be willing to commute for hours just to work a shit pay job in a big city when shit pay jobs are plentiful in so many other places with far lower living costs?

New York isn't the only metro dealing with this absurd problem. I think its darkly funny how the San Francisco Bay Area has the same problem every bit as bad. So many folks out there preach ethics of "New Urbanism" and sustainability. Those utopian visions collapse into hypocrisy when even a software engineer pulling in $200K per year has trouble providing the basics for his family. How the hell is the coffee shop employee behind the counter supposed to make ends meet? How is it "sustainable" or an example of "New Urbanism" if that barista can't live close to work and walk or bicycle ride between home and work? It's not exactly "New Urbanism" is that coffee shop employee has to commute clear from Stockton to do a job he/she could be doing in Stockton for a lot less trouble and time wasted.

It's even getting ridiculous in the Colorado Springs area where my parents live. My dad is convinced he's going to sell his house and 10 acres of land he has NE of the Springs for a big sum of money. I warned him not to believe everything real estate people say. You only get what you're going to get for your property until someone actually writes a check for that amount. Most of the new homes being built in the Springs cost near $300,000 and go way up from there. You need to be doing pretty well to afford that kind of mortgage and not struggle. Correct me if I'm wrong, but most Americans aren't making $100,000 per year or more in their day jobs. The biggest part of America's work force is in service industry jobs and most of those jobs don't pay $100K per year or anywhere near half that.

quote: Martin Brooks
The problem is that almost all new housing is being built for the rich, even housing which is called middle-class housing. IMO, an $800,000 2-bedroom apartment is not middle-class housing. Working class people who are either new to the city or have to move are totally screwed. So I think the losses we experienced between 1980 and 2000 can happen again because it's not just a matter of "ordinary" people not being able to live in Manhattan - they really can't live almost anywhere in the city anymore.
It's a new real estate bubble and investors from all over the world are in on it. All kinds of property owners, slum lords in particular, are trying to take advantage while they can. I read about one scam where land lords would hold onto rent checks and not deposit them. That way they could claim the tenants were behind on rent and then evict them. Then they do enough renovation on the apartment to charge higher prices and get it out of the rent control system.

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