Ryan Coogler explains why he's keeping Black Panther 2 in Georgia despite calls for boycott
Many filmmakers, actors, and moviegoers have called on Hollywood to pull film and TV productions out of Georgia in response to the state's controversial, restrictive SB202 voting rights bill, which was recently signed into law by Gov. Brian Kemp. Some projects have already been withdrawn, but Black Panther 2 director Ryan Coogler will not be following suit.
In a guest column published by Deadline on Friday, the filmmaker says he's keeping production on the Marvel movie sequel in Georgia and will instead support voting rights organizations.
"While I wished to turn my concern into action, I could not do so without first being educated on the specifics of Georgia," Coogler writes. "Having now spoken with voting rights activists in the state, I have come to understand that many of the people employed by my film, including all the local vendors and businesses we engage, are the very same people who will bear the brunt of SB202. For those reasons, I will not be engaging in a boycott of Georgia. What I will be doing is using my voice to emphasize the effects of SB202, its shameful roots in Jim Crow, and doing all I can to support organizations fighting voter suppression here in the state."
The wide-reaching SB202 bill allows state officials to usurp the powers of county election boards, criminalizes passing out water and food to voters waiting in line at voter locations, adds an ID requirement for mail-in ballots and then limits the drop-off locations, adds new restrictions on the operating hours of polling locations, and blocks mobile voting, among other restrictive measures. This comes after former President Donald Trump's potentially illegal acts to try to pressure Georgia officials to flip the state's votes in the 2020 election to support him.
"Our film is staying in Georgia," Coogler writes. "Additionally, I have made a personal commitment to raise awareness about ways to help overturn this harmful bill, and continue to get educated on this matter from people on the ground. I will encourage everyone working with me to tap in with the local community directly affected by Senate Bill 202 and to leverage their influence and resources to aid in the fight for this particular and essential pillar of democracy."
The filmmaker concludes by stating his intent to donate money to the organization Fair Fight Action and directing readers to the group's website.
Georgia has become an epicenter for film and television production, playing host to projects like The Walking Dead and Disney's Marvel movies. Hollywood studios and talent expressed similar calls for a boycott on filming in 2019, when lawmakers in Georgia tried to pass a controversial abortion law.
James Mangold, who will soon start production on Indiana Jones 5 with Harrison Ford and Phoebe Waller-Bridge, tweeted that he "will not direct a film in Georgia" following word of SB202. Star Wars actor Mark Hamill echoed the sentiment, saying, "ABSOLUTELY! #NoMoreFilmingInGeorgia."
Some Hollywood studios and guilds have also joined voting rights organizations and activists in denouncing the bill.
Black Panther 2 is currently scheduled to hit theaters in 2022. Details on the film are still under wraps, but Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige said there are no plans to recast the late Chadwick Boseman's title role. Coogler is also developing a Wakanda spin-off series for Disney+.