- Hollywood studios are increasingly saying they will reconsider filming in Georgia should the Heartbeat Law go into effect.
- Included among the companies are Disney, Netflix and Viacom.
- Republican Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp signed the bill into law May 7.
A growing number of Hollywood studios said they will consider no longer conducting their filming business in Georgia should the Heartbeat Law take effect in 2020.
The film industry adds about $9.5 billion to Georgia’s economy, but a variety of Hollywood studios said the heartbeat law violates Roe v. Wade and that they are considering taking their filming elsewhere, NBC News reported.
Republican Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp signed a fetal heartbeat bill in May that is set to go into effect Jan. 1, 2020, banning most abortions in Georgia after a heartbeat is detected. The bill makes exceptions in cases of rape and incest with a police report, and when the mother’s health is at risk.
Hollywood studios are threatening to withhold their business, noting they are each monitoring the situation and will pay attention to their actors’ and production teams’ wishes.
Netflix said the Georgia ban would make the company rethink its investment in Georgia.
“We have many women working on productions in Georgia, whose rights, along with millions of others, will be severely restricted by this law,” said Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos. “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.
Disney CEO Bob Iger said he doesn’t see how it is practical for Disney to continue shooting in Georgia if the law goes into effect, adding that the law would make it “very difficult” for Disney to keep filming there. (RELATED: Disney Threatens To Boycott Georgia But Partners With China, Which Puts Muslims In Internment Camps)
“I rather doubt we will,” 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.”
Though the company is vocal about boycotting Georgia, Disney profits from doing business in China, a notorious human rights violator that has undertaken mass detentions of Uighur Muslims, placing them in internment camps.
Disney also filmed movies in Middle Eastern countries with stricter abortion laws than the Georgia bill, including Jordan and the United Arab Emirates.
NBC Universal said it expects the bill will meet serious challenges.
“We fully expect that the heartbeat bills and similar laws in various states will face serious legal challenges and will not go into effect while the process proceeds in court,” NBC stated. “If any of these laws are upheld, it would strongly impact our decision-making on where we produce our content in the future.”
Warner Media said the company respects due process, adding that it often works in countries that might not hold stances Warner Media agrees with.
“We operate and produce work in many states and within several countries at any given time and while that doesn’t mean we agree with every position taken by a state or a country and their leaders, we do respect due process,” Warner Media said in a statement.
“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.”
SONY commented on the Heartbeat Law as well.
“As the MPAA has noted, the outcome of the Georgia ‘Heartbeat Law,’ and similar proposed legislation in other states, will be determined through the legal process,” SONY said. “We will continue to monitor that process in close consultation with our filmmakers and television showrunners, talent and other stakeholders as we consider our future production options.”
Viacom said it expects the legislation to face “significant legal challenges.”
“We are closely monitoring the situation in Georgia and expect the legislation will be subject to significant legal challenges,” Viacom said. “Should the new law ever take effect, we will assess whether we will continue to produce projects in Georgia.”
AMC and CBS Showtime also expressed concerns over the law and mentioned the possibility of reconsidering where they’d take future business.
STX Entertainment CEO Robert Simonds reportedly told employees in an email that relocating STX production would hurt crew members. Although Simonds said STX does not believe the Heartbeat Bill accurately “represents the will of the people in Georgia,” the company will not be leaving the state.
“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,” Simonds reportedly wrote in an email to employees, according to NBC. “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.”
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