LOS GATOS (CBS SF / CNN) — Two of the world’s biggest entertainment companies, Netflix and Disney, say they may stop producing movies and TV shows in Georgia if the state’s new abortion law takes effect.
The state is a hub for entertainment industry production, in part because of generous tax breaks Georgia offers filmmakers and producers.
But the companies are warning that they might have to give up those tax incentives and leave the state — flexing their financial muscles in a way that’s guaranteed to get the attention of local political leaders.
Georgia’s governor, Brian Kemp, this month signed a bill that would ban abortions if a fetal heartbeat can be detected, usually at about six weeks of pregnancy.
The restrictive new law, should it survive court challenges from the ACLU and women’s rights groups, is set to take effect on January 1.
Prominent celebrities and some production companies have vowed to boycott Georgia as a result. But the deep pockets of Netflix and Disney mean the companies have louder voices.
Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos spoke out on Tuesday.
Then Disney CEO Bob Iger was asked about the situation on Wednesday.
Disney will find it “very difficult” to film in Georgia if the new law takes effect, Iger told Reuters.
“I think many people who work for us will not want to work there, and we will have to heed their wishes in that regard. Right now, we are watching it very carefully,” Iger said.
Iger was interviewed at the opening of the new Stars Wars: Galaxy’s Edge land at Disneyland in California. When asked about Georgia, he said that if the law takes effect, “I don’t see how it’s practical for us to continue to shoot there.”
Disney has filmed some of its blockbusters like “Avengers: Endgame” and “Black Panther” in Georgia.
When the bill was signed into law earlier this month, the heads of several production companies said they would not film in the state. They included Christine Vachon, chief executive officer of Killer Films; David Simon, creator of “The Wire” and “The Deuce” who heads Blown Deadline Productions; and Mark Duplass of Duplass Brothers Productions.
Director Reed Morano canceled plans to scout locations in Georgia for a forthcoming Amazon series. And actor Kristen Wiig said that a comedy project had pulled out of the state.
Then came Netflix’s statement on Tuesday.
“We have many women working on productions in Georgia, whose rights, along with millions of others, will be severely restricted by this law,” Sarandos told Variety. “It’s why we will work with the ACLU and others to fight it in court. Given the legislation has not yet been implemented, we’ll continue to film there, while also supporting partners and artists who choose not to.” But — here’s the but — “should it ever come into effect, we’d rethink our entire investment in Georgia.”
WarnerMedia, which is the parent company of HBO, Warner Bros., production company Warner Entertainment, TBS, TNT and CNN, among others, and which has a major operation in Georgia, released a statement in which it noted it works in many areas of the country and world.
“[W]hile that doesn’t mean we agree with every position taken by a state or a country and their leaders, we do respect due process,” the statement said. “We will watch the situation closely and if the new law holds we will reconsider Georgia as the home to any new productions. As is always the case, we will work closely with our production partners and talent to determine how and where to shoot any given project.”
Former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams tweeted about Iger’s statement.
“Georgia stands to lose Netflix & Disney. This means lost jobs for carpenters, hair dressers, food workers & 100s of small businesses grown right here. Billions in economic investment headed to states eager to welcome film + protect women.” She added a hashtag: “Consequences.”
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