ENTERTAINMENT

Will Smith Scraps Georgia Movie Plans Over 'Regressive' Voting Law

"Emancipation," which will be directed by Antoine Fuqua, is the first major film to pull out of the state over the controversial legislation.

Georgia’s new voting restrictions don’t sit well with Will Smith.  

The “Men in Black” actor and director Antoine Fuqua on Monday announced they have scrapped plans to film their new movie, “Emancipation,” in the Peach State over the controversial legislation. 

“At this moment in time, the Nation is coming to terms with its history and is attempting to eliminate vestiges of institutional racism to achieve true racial justice,” Smith and Fuqua said in a joint statement. “We cannot in good conscience provide economic support to a government that enacts regressive voting laws that are designed to restrict voter access.”

“The new Georgia voting laws are reminiscent of voting impediments that were passed at the end of Reconstruction to prevent many Americans from voting,” they continued. “Regrettably, we feel compelled to move our film production work from Georgia to another state.”

Due to begin filming in June, “Emancipation” is the first major Hollywood production to pull out of Georgia since Republican Gov. Brian Kemp signed the restrictions into law March 25. Though the film duo’s statement did not specify where production would now take place, Deadline reports that Fuqua, Smith and the rest of the creative team are considering Louisiana, where much of the movie is set. 

Kemp has faced intense criticism since approving the measures, which include limiting the use of drop boxes for absentee ballots and barring voting groups from providing food and water to those standing in line to vote. Many have denounced the legislation as “Jim Crow 2.0” and argued it will have a disproportionate impact on Black voters. 

Fuqua and Smith’s announcement comes a little more than a week after Major League Baseball cited the voting law in its decision to relocate the 2021 All-Star Game from Atlanta to Denver. 

Written by William N. Collage, “Emancipation” will star Smith as Peter, an enslaved man who emancipated himself from a Southern plantation and joined the Union Army during the Civil War. 

“You can’t fix the past, but you can remind people of the past and I think we have to, in an accurate, real way,” Fuqua told Deadline of the film, which is based on a true story. “We all have to look for a brighter future for us all, for everyone. That’s one of the most important reasons to do things right now, is show our history. We have to face our truth before we can move forward.”