When it comes to the anti-abortion “heartbeat” bills popping up in multiple states across the country, Hollywood could hold a unique sway on the matter. Film and TV productions account for a hefty economic boost to local economies, and members of the entertainment industry are already taking a stand against the controversial government actions.
(UPDATE, June 1) Miranda Bailey: Indie film producer Miranda Bailey dropped out of Time Capsule, one month before the production was to shoot in Georgia. In a statement given to EW over email, her rep said, “Miranda decided to not be part of the Time Capsule project a month before shooting started because she does not support the Georgia abortion bill. She fully stands behind a woman’s right to choose.”
(UPDATE, May 30) CBS: CBS followed the likes of Netflix, AMC, and WarnerMedia in echoing similar concern from companies over the anti-abortion bills.
“Creative voices across our industry have expressed strong concern about the recently signed bill in Georgia,” a company spokesperson in a statement to Variety. “The ability to attract the best talent is the first step in producing great entertainment content and is always an important consideration in where we film any series. We are monitoring the legislative and legal developments in Georgia with the full expectation that the process in the courts will play out for some time. For now, we will continue producing our series based there that have production orders for next season. If the law takes effect in Georgia or elsewhere, these may not be viable locations for our future production.”
NBCUniversal: “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,” the company said in a statement, via The Hollywood Reporter. “If any of these laws are upheld, it would strongly impact our decision-making on where we produce our content in the future.”
Sony: Pet a separate statement, a spokesperson for the movie studio said, “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. 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.”
AMC: “If this highly restrictive legislation goes into effect, we will reevaluate our activity in Georgia,” a spokesperson for the network behind The Walking Dead, arguably the biggest television series that shoots in Georgia, said. “Similar bills – some even more restrictive – have passed in multiple states and have been challenged. This is likely to be a long and complicated fight and we are watching it all very closely.”
WarnerMedia: The parent company of HBO, TBS, TNT, Cinemax, CNN, and Cartoon Network released a statement that reads, “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. 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.”
Disney: Bob Iger, Chairman and CEO of Walt Disney, said it would be “very difficult” to continue filming in Georgia, given the heartbeat bill. “I rather doubt we will,” he said. “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.”
(UPDATE, May 28) Netflix: In a statement issued by Netflix chief Ted Sarandos, the company took a stance and vowed to “rethink” its “entire investment in Georgia” should the bill take effect.
“We have many women working on productions in Georgia, whose rights, along with millions of others, will be severely restricted by this law,” Sarandos said. “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. Should it ever come into effect, we’d rethink our entire investment in Georgia.”
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The Power: A new series from Amazon Studios became the first from the TV space to leave Georgia, thanks to Reed Morano (The Handmaid’s Tale). The Emmy-winning director planned to location scout in the state but canceled plans when Gov. Brian Kemp signed a bill that effectively bans abortion as early as six weeks.
“We had no problem stopping the entire process instantly,” Morano told TIME. “There is no way we would ever bring our money to that state by shooting there.”
Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar: The team behind Kristen Wiig’s upcoming comedy, a film she co-wrote with Annie Mumolo, was similarly in the planning stages for location scouting in Georgia when production company Gloria Sanchez Productions decided not to shoot in the state, EW has learned. Wiig’s publicists declined to comment on the matter and Lionsgate has not made any formal statement on the matter.
There are other projects not necessarily pulling production out of heartbeat bill states but taking a different kind of stand.
Lovecraft Country: J.J. Abrams and Jordan Peele are planning to shoot the upcoming HBO drama in Georgia, but vowed to “donate 100 percent of our respective episodic fees for this season to two organizations leading the charge against this draconian law: the ACLU of Georgia and Fair Fight Georgia,” according to a joint statement.
“In a few weeks we start shooting our new show, Lovecraft Country, and will do so standing shoulder to shoulder with the women of Georgia,” they said. “Governor Kemp’s ‘Fetal Heartbeat’ Abortion Law is an unconstitutional effort to further restrict women and their health providers from making private medical decisions on their terms. Make no mistake, this is an attack aimed squarely and purposely at women.”
Alabama, Ohio, Kentucky, Mississippi, and Missouri are among the states with similar heartbeat bills, but Georgia is a second home for Hollywood. The industry generated $9.5 billion in “total economic impact” for the state in 2018, per AJC Radio & TV Talk.
On May 20, the West Hollywood City Council voted to suspend official travel to Georgia “and any other state which adopts similar legislation,” as well as look into cutting ties with Georgia-based businesses that work with the City of West Hollywood.
Blown Deadline Productions (from The Wire creator David Simon), Killer Films (behind films like Carol and Vox Lux), Duplass Brothers Productions (from the Duplass Brothers), and CounterNarrative Films (on behalf of producer Neal Dodson) also publicly condemned Georgia’s heartbeat bill. Though, none are known to have any projects slated to shoot in the state, according to The Wrap.
According to the Georgia government website, Warner Bros.’ The Conjuring 3, 20th Century Fox’s Fear Street, STX Entertainment’s Greeland, Focus Features’ Irresistible, and Netflix’s Holidate are among the feature films with productions in the state — some of which already started filming before the Georgia bill was signed, a factor that makes it more difficult to pull active productions from the state, given filming budgets, the continuity of the shots, and similar complications. As for television, shows like AMC’s The Walking Dead, OWN’s Greenleaf, and Netflix’s Insatiable and Ozark set up shop in Georgia.
Focus Features declined to comment, while reps for the other previously mentioned film studios and TV networks did not immediately respond to EW’s requests for comment.
This article will be updated as new developments come to light.