‘Newsies’ Star Says Disney Sent Her Mean Reviews After Movie Bombed


  • “Newsies” star Ele Keats told Insider that Disney sent her negative reviews after the movie bombed.
  • She said the reviews were “horrible” and some felt like a personal attack. 
  • “Newsies” debuted in 1992 and was a box-office flop that later become a cult classic. 

Before it became a cult classic, “Newsies” was one of Disney’s biggest box-office flops, receiving an onslaught of negative reviews immediately upon its release. Actress Ele Keats, who was 20 at the time, said Disney sent her “painfully mean” reviews in the mail after the film’s debut. 

“I got mailed this, like, phone book of horrible reviews, including some personal-attack type of reviews,” Keats told Insider in a recent interview ahead of the movie’s 30th anniversary.

The actress said she received “all of the horrific reviews for ‘Newsies’ in the mail” from “someone from Disney.” Keats, who played Sarah Jacobs in the 1992 movie, said it was “really hard” for her to read the critiques, which she received while on the set of the Disney-Paramount movie “Alive.”

“I think that someone in the press department thought maybe I would enjoy reading them. I don’t know why,” she said, explaining that it may have been because she was already “working on another Disney movie.”

Her costar Arvie Lowe Jr, who played the newsie Boots, also told Insider he, too, received copies of “Newsies” reviews in the mail from Disney, and was sent them nearly every week.

He said reviews included how the movie was “terrible” and “wrong” and the acting was “subpar.”

‘Newsies’ is famous for being a box-office flop, but Keats believes it was just ahead of its time 

Ele Keats in 2015 next to still of her in Newsies with David Moscow and Les

Ele Keats in 2015 next to a still of her and her costars in “Newsies.”

Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic/Getty Images; Walt Disney Pictures


The Kenny Ortega-directed movie musical famously bombed at the box office, grossing $1.2 million against a $15 million budget. Still, it’s since become a cult classic. 

A lot of the stars and creators of the film were optimistic that the film would be successful, and some believe it was just ahead of its time.

Keats said she thinks the movie’s failure comes down to “timing” and that it would be “a smash hit” if it was released today because of how much the world has evolved.  

“It was just before its time. If it could have come out even eight years later, it would be wildly successful — 10 or 12 years later, it would’ve been a smash hit.”

Representatives for Disney didn’t immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.

Read Insider’s 30th-anniversary retrospective on “Newsies” here.



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