Group upbeat about changes at company due to departure of Michael Eisner and Miramax split.
May 24, 2005: 6:10 PM EDT
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A conservative Christian group has ended a nine-year boycott of the Walt Disney Co., citing as "positive signs" the departure of Chief Executive Michael Eisner and the release of a film based on the children's book "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe."
Mississippi-based American Family Association said it ended its campaign to stop Disney from "promoting homosexuality" to focus on "new challenges in the culture wars" such as the appointment of federal judges and same-sex marriage laws.
The group called off the campaign without achieving any of the changes in corporate behavior it sought, including a call for Disney to ban "Gay Day" revelers from its theme parks and set up an advisory panel of evangelical Christians.
Disney officials had no comment on the end of the boycott.
AFA had been joined in the 1996 boycott by the Southern Baptist Conference, Focus on the Family and other conservative Christian groups, but was alone in dropping the action.
Sanders Morris Harris analyst David Miller said he doubted the prolonged action had any impact on Disney's profitability. "Anytime you have a highly visible, high-profile company you're going to have someone who doesn't like what you're doing," he said.
AFA President Tim Wildmon cited the pending departures of Eisner as chief executive and the company's split with Miramax studio chiefs Bob and Harvey Weinstein as driving factors behind the lifting of the boycott.
"Eisner has been the main part of the problem -- he would not even sit down with us," Wildmon said. "They got involved with Miramax which was making a lot of trash films."
Wildmon said AFA also was persuaded that Disney had changed its ways by its decision to release a film adaptation of the C.S. Lewis book "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe," which they say contains Christian themes.
"We know there are a lot of evangelicals who are going to want to go and see that, and they appreciate that Disney is producing that kind of movie," Wildmon said.
I wonder how they'll feel when they realize Rupert Everett plays the voice of the Fox. Anyway, whatever.