Disney ad on LA Times cover

The ad dismayed some readers and was lamented by media scholars. (SUPPLIED)

The Los Angeles Times' critic may have panned the film, but that did not stop Disney from paying top dollar to turn the newspaper's front page into a special advertisement on Friday for the new movie, Alice in Wonderland.

The ad, believed to be the first of its kind among America's leading big-city dailies, dismayed some readers and was lamented by media scholars as the latest troubling sign of difficult times at the newspaper.

The ad features a full-colour photo of actor Johnny Depp in gaudy makeup, wig and costume as the film's Mad Hatter character, superimposed across an authentic-looking front page mock-up, topped by the Times' traditional masthead.

 

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