Georgia Abortion Ban Could Threaten The State’s Movie And TV Industry

Stars have said they’ll boycott the state, where big tax credits attract projects like "Stranger Things" and "Avengers" films.

Entertainment industry figures are speaking out against Georgia’s new abortion ban, potentially threatening the economy of a state whose generous film and television tax incentives have attracted many big Hollywood productions, from Netflix’s “Stranger Things” to Marvel’s “Avengers” franchise.

A growing number of movie and TV stars and creators have condemned the “heartbeat” abortion law, which bars the procedure once a fetal heartbeat is detected. That can be as early as six weeks of pregnancy, when many women don’t even realize they’re pregnant yet. The measure was signed into law by Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R) on Tuesday. 

David Simon, creator of HBO’s “The Wire,” tweeted Wednesday that he would only “undertake production where the rights of all citizens remain intact.”

On Thursday, producer Christine Vachon announced that her production company Killer Films ― behind a number of criticially acclaimed independent movies, including “Boys Don’t Cry,” “Far from Heaven” and “Carol” — would also not film in Georgia “until this ridiculous law is overturned.”

On her E! talk show Tuesday night, actress Busy Philipps spoke out against the ban and shared her own story about getting an abortion.

When Georgia legislators passed the bill in March, dozens of Hollywood actors signed a letter, spearheaded by actress Alyssa Milano, telling Kemp that they would not work in the state if the bill became law and pledging to “do everything in our power to move our industry to a safer state for women.”

Georgia allows film and television projects income tax credits of up to 30%, which has attracted a number of major Hollywood productions. Marvel has filmed several installments of “The Avengers” at Pinewood Studios outside Atlanta, including “Avengers: Endgame,” which is currently breaking box-office records.

Among TV series, AMC’s “The Walking Dead” and Netflix’s “Stranger Things” have also filmed heavily in Georgia. Netflix set the first two seasons of its “Queer Eye” reboot in and around Atlanta.

In 2018, 455 movie and television productions filmed in Georgia, generating $2.7 billion in direct spending in the state, the governor’s office said last year.

The state has also leveraged the productions to boost its tourism industry, with tour companies taking visitors to famous filming locations. In addition, the movies and TV shows themselves market the state by featuring the Georgia peach logo in their end credits.

It’s not clear yet whether Hollywood will mount a large-scale boycott of Georgia, as many entertainment companies did in 2016 in North Carolina in response to that state’s anti-LGBTQ bill known as HB2. 

Marvel, AMC and Netflix did not immediately respond to requests for comment Wednesday on whether they planned to pull current or future productions from Georgia.

In a statement later Wednesday, the Motion Picture Association of America said it plans “to monitor developments” on the law, which is unlikely to take effect immediately because, like other highly restrictive abortion laws, it is facing legal challenges.

“It is important to remember that similar legislation has been attempted in other states, and has either been enjoined by the courts or currently being challenged,” spokesman Chris Ortman told Variety. “The outcome in Georgia will also be determined through the legal process.”

Earlier this year, Netflix moved production of an upcoming show, “OBX,” from North Carolina to South Carolina, in part because of HB2.

Three years ago, a number of large corporations ― including such Hollywood heavyweights as Disney (which owns Marvel) and Netflix ― threatened to boycott Georgia over a “religious liberty” bill that would have restricted services for LGBTQ people. Under mounting pressure, then-Gov. Nathan Deal (R) vetoed the bill. 

This story has been updated with a statement from the Motion Picture Association of America and a tweet from Christine Vachon.

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