Movie Productions In Georgia May Stop Over State's Abortion Law
RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:
More feature films are made in Georgia than in any other U.S. state. Its film commission even likes to call Georgia Y'allywood. But a restrictive abortion law passed earlier this spring is threatening that industry. Ten major film and TV studios now say they might halt production altogether there.
NPR's Neda Ulaby reports.
NEDA ULABY, BYLINE: It started with Netflix.
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ULABY: Some of its most popular shows are filmed in Georgia, including the science fiction hit, "Stranger Things," starting its third season this summer.
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DAVID HARBOUR: (As Chief Hopper) It is important to me that you feel safe.
ULABY: Ted Sarandos, who runs Netflix studios, said on Tuesday the Georgia law would restrict the rights of his female employees. And if it's enacted, his company would reconsider shooting there. The next day, Disney CEO Bob Iger made a similar comment in an interview with Reuters.
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BOB IGER: Well, I think if it becomes law, it will be very difficult to produce there. I rather doubt we will. I think many people who work for us will not want to work there. And we'll have to heed their wishes in that regard.
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CHADWICK BOSEMAN: (As Black Panther) Wakanda forever.
ULABY: "Black Panther" and "Avengers: Endgame" are just two Disney blockbusters that were shot partly in Georgia. Disney and other companies have faced pressure from abortion rights advocates to stop filming there, including from top directors and stars.
RODNEY HO: They want to be supportive of their creatives.
ULABY: Rodney Ho covers entertainment for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He says in spite of Georgia's generous tax credits, studios like Disney and Netflix still depend on those big name producers and talent to make their movies and shows.
HO: And if they refuse to work in Georgia, it's like, you know, what can Disney or Netflix or these guys do?
ULABY: Film and TV studios bring an estimated $9 1/2 billion to the state, as well as nearly 100,000 jobs. A Hollywood boycott, says Ho, would leave local workers behind.
HO: You know, the hair people, the prop people - all the people who moved here and built businesses here, they don't get any of the tax credits. So they would just simply, you know, lose all the money from all the investment they put in on the assumption that this tax credit would be around and nothing could possibly hurt it.
ULABY: That said, a number of studios, including Disney, threatened to leave Georgia two years ago when a bill passed that would have allowed religious groups to discriminate against queer and transgender people. Then-Governor Nathan Deal vetoed it. But Ho says Georgia's governor now, Brian Kemp, made this abortion bill a campaign promise.
HO: So he's simply saying he's doing what he's doing for his constituents. So that's where we're at right now.
ULABY: Ho points out that similarly restrictive bills have been blocked in other states, and Georgia's is being challenged as well. The major studios may be counting on not having to make a real decision.
Neda Ulaby, NPR News.
(SOUNDBITE OF COMMODO'S "DYRGE") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.