Disney, Netflix and WarnerMedia say new abortion law may push their movies out of Georgia
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Bob Iger said it would be “very difficult” for Disney to keep filming in Georgia if the state enacts a new abortion law.
Earlier this month, Georgia legislators passed a bill banning almost all abortions after a fetal heartbeat can be detected, which is about six weeks into a pregnancy and before many women even know they are pregnant. The measure makes exceptions in the case of rape and incest — but only if the woman files a police report or if her life is in danger — and if the pregnancy is deemed medically futile due to a fetal anomaly.
In an interview with Reuters, the CEO of the Walt Disney Co. said he had doubts the company would continue production in Georgia if the controversial ban on abortion in the state comes into effect, primarily as the company's employees would be against it.
Disney CEO Bob Iger Says Georgias Abortion Ban Will Make It Very Difficult to Work There
“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 told Reuters.
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The exec added that if the law does come into effect, he didn't "see how it’s practical for us to continue to shoot there."
Iger issued his warning to Georgia ahead of the dedication for a new Star Wars section at Disneyland. It is unclear whether Iger, whose company owns the Star Wars franchise, knows that Star Wars: The Force Awakens, a 2015 movie that Disney distributed, was filmed in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates, which outlaws all abortions except when the mothers life is at risk or when the baby has a fatal “abnormality.” Even in those situations, doctors can only perform abortions within 120 days of pregnancy.
Video: Disney and other film companies considering boycotting Georgia over abortion bill | USA TODAY
Disney's prospective withdrawal from production in Georgia would be a huge blow to the state. Recently, Disney's Marvel Studios filmed portions of both Black Panther and Avengers: Endgame in Georgia.
According to Reuters, Iger commented on the company potentially halting its Georgia film production during the dedication of Disneylands new Star Wars: Galaxys Edge section. When asked if filming in Georgia would continue, Iger said it would be very difficult to do so if the abortion law goes into effect.
On May 7, Georgia's Republican Gov. Brian Kemp signed the "fetal-heartbeat bill," which bans abortion as early as six weeks into pregnancy. The legislation, as well as similar moves in Alabama and other states to ban abortion, has caused a furious backlash in Hollywood and led to calls to boycott those states.
I rather doubt we will, Iger said ahead of the Star Wars dedication. 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.
Disney, through Iger, is the latest company to wade into the controversy. Earlier this week, Netflix said it would fight Georgia's abortion law and would "rethink" its operations there should the law go into effect.
STX also weighed in on production on Georgia on Thursday, addressing the current work on its show Greenleaf. In an email to STX employees, CEO Robert Simonds wrote, "As many of you know, when Georgia Governor Brian Kemp signed the HB 481 'fetal heartbeat' bill into law on May 7th, STX was in pre-production on the film Greenland in Atlanta, GA. While the bill has not yet come into effect, we do not believe it represents the will of the people in Georgia. After thoughtful consideration about how best to move forward, we feel that relocating production would penalize the hundreds of talented crew members who would abruptly be out of jobs. In an effort to aid those on the ground fighting to reverse this legislation, STX will be making a donation to the ACLU of Georgia. Should HB 481 ever officially come into effect, we will reassess filming any future projects in the state."
At least two projects — Reed Morano's Amazon series The Power and Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolo's Lionsgate feature Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar — have said they will relocate their productions.
Producers including David Simon, Christine Vachon, Mark Duplass, Neal Dodson and Nina Jacobson and Brad Simpson have also said they will steer clear of the state for future productions.
Media giants threaten to leave Georgia Gabe Ginsberg/WireImage Disney and Netflix have both announced that they might stop investing in Georgia, where many movies and TV shows are and have been filmed, if the states new abortion law goes into effect. [NPR / Sasha Ingber] The bill these companies are referencing bans abortion once a fetal heartbeat is detected, usually around six weeks. The law wont go into effect until January 1 and groups like the ACLU have already pledged to shut it down in court before then. [USA Today / Brett Molina] In an interview with Reuters, Walt Disney CEO Bob Iger said that it would be very difficult for the company to continue filming in the state because of opposition from workers. [Reuters / Lisa Richwine] Earlier this week, Netflixs chief content officer Ted Sarandos also said that the company would rethink its entire investment in Georgia and join other human rights groups to fight the abortion ban in court. [AP] This isnt the first time businesses have been able to sway Georgia politics with their influence. In 2016, multiple companies threatened to leave the state if a bill that strengthened the legal rights for opponents of same-sex marriage passed. The governor ultimately vetoed the bill. [NYT / Alan Blinder] Georgia has been able to attract production companies with its tax credits (it offers a 10 percent cut to projects that add the states peach logo in the closing credits). The film industry has been an economic boost for the state: Over the past decade, it has created 92,000 jobs and $2.7 billion in revenue. [NYT / Daniel Victor] Disney blockbusters like Black Panther and Captain America: Civil War have been filmed in the state, along with Netflixs popular Stranger Things. The loss of large film companies like Disney and Netflix would likely be a big blow for Georgia. [CNN / Brian Stelter and Shannon Liao] vox-mark Vox Sentences The news, but shorter, delivered straight to your inbox.
Georgia, thanks to generous 30 percent tax incentives, has become a magnet for film and TV productions, with over 90,000 people working in those industries. In 2018, 455 productions took place in Georgia, according to figures from the state.