Georgia’s Governor Brian Kemp has recently been in the news for all the wrong reasons. He just signed a new restrictive law, effectively prohibiting abortions after a heartbeat can be detected, which is usually in the first six weeks of pregnancy. In contrast, in other States the limit can be upward of twenty-four weeks, although that too can vary.
This law has angered many people in Hollywood. With its generous tax incentives, Georgia has become a filmmaking hub, hosting blockbuster films such as Marvel Studios’ “Black Panther” and shows such as Netflix’s “Stranger Things.”
Executives from both Netflix and Disney have gone on record that they would reconsider filming in Georgia if the government passed their abortion bill. Adding to the chorus are NBCUniversal, CBS/Showtime, and WarnerMedia, the AT&T-owned parent of Warner Bros., HBO and Atlanta-based CNN.
To be clear, each company has put out statements with carefully-worded language – the type that was put together by a bunch of lawyers. None of the corporations has actually committed to boycotting Georgia, but only to reconsider putting money into the State. In effect, they’ve only said they will potentially take action if the law survives what are expected to be significant court challenges.
Warner Bros’s statement suggests it will rethink only “new” productions in Georgia, saying nothing of projects that are currently filming in the State or are already committed to doing so. It’s a far cry from the full-on boycott some Hollywood activists have demanded. Yet, the various statements represent a notable shift, or at least a breaking of the silence.
So What has Changed?
Some insiders say the studios have been facing real pressure from actors, producers and directors to take some kind of action against Georgia. Producers such as David Simon, who made “The Wire” and “The Deuce” for HBO, have been vocal about the issue online. Nina Jacobson, whose “Hunger Games” movies shot in Georgia for Lionsgate, has also pledged to no longer take projects there.
It remains to be seen who else will follow the lead of Netflix, Disney and WarnerMedia after they broke the ice, or what effect the threats will have, if any. Whether Georgia’s film economy will be effected remains to be seen but it’s probably safe to assume that Governor Kemp isn’t losing any sleep over these threats.
Multiple states, including Alabama, have recently passed restrictive abortion laws in direct challenges to the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decision in Roe vs. Wade, which protected a woman’s right to terminate pregnancies.
It should be pointed out that not every filmmaker wants to exit Georgia over the abortion law. J.J. Abrams and Jordan Peele, for example, who are making the series “Lovecraft Country” for HBO, instead opted to stay and donate “episodic fees” to the abortion rights cause. It seems unlikely that staunch republican Clint Eastwood’s upcoming project “The Ballad of Richard Jewell,” which centers on the 1996 Atlanta Olympics bombing, would film in another State.
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