Three Hollywood powerhouses have lined up against a restrictive abortion law in Georgia, signaling that its implementation could influence their willingness to continue filming in the state.
On Thursday, WarnerMedia — the parent company of HBO and Warner Bros. — became the latest big studio to correlate its business interests in Georgia with the law. The move comes one day after Walt Disney’s chairman and chief executive, Bob Iger, took a similar stance and two days after Netflix announced it would actively work to challenge the law. Several independent production companies also have threatened to cut ties with the state.
The backlash stems from legislation signed by Republican Gov. Brian Kemp earlier this month. The measure prohibits abortion once the fetal heartbeat can be detected, which typically happens near the six-week mark, before many women know they are pregnant. Georgia is among more than a dozen states that have adopted or are moving toward similar restrictions on abortion.
If the Georgia law survives legal challenges, it would take effect Jan. 1.
“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,” WarnerMedia said in a statement. The company said it will “reconsider Georgia as the home to any new productions” if the new law holds.
Iger took a similar stance Wednesday. When asked by Reuters whether Disney would keep filming in Georgia after the law takes effect, Iger said, “I rather doubt we will. 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.”
Georgia’s film industry has exploded in the past decade, thanks in part to the state’s generous tax breaks. Film production generated $9.5 billion and created more than 90,000 jobs last year, according to a McKinsey study published earlier this month. The report cited the state’s ability to foster a commercial advantage for its success in this arena.
Several of Disney’s highest-grossing movies were filmed in Georgia, including the box office heavyweights “Avengers: Endgame” and “Black Panther.” Netflix also has invested heavily in the state, filming such prominent shows as “Stranger Things,” “Insatiable” and “Ozark” there.
Netflix Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos said earlier this week that the streaming giant would partner with various groups to challenge the abortion law in court. Though Netflix will continue filming in Georgia for the time being, the company said it will “rethink” its business there if the restrictions take effect.
Some celebrities and industry leaders have taken a more hard-line approach. Companies run by actor-directors Mark and Jay Duplass, and “Wire” writer David Simon have said they would no longer do business in Georgia. “Ozark” star Jason Bateman joined producers Brian Grazer and Ron Howard in promising to halt production of the upcoming movie adaptation of “Hillbilly Elegy” if the law advances.
More than 50 actors have signed a letter to Georgia legislators vowing to end production in the state, including Alyssa Milano, Gabrielle Union, Mia Farrow, Don Cheadle, Amy Schumer, Patton Oswalt and Sean Penn.
The barrage of more restrictive abortion legislation is being championed by religious conservatives intent on undermining Roe v. Wade, the U.S. Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion nationwide in 1973. The idea is to provoke legal challenges that could make their way to the nation’s highest court, a strategy that could take years to play out.
As the legal battle unfolds, some industry leaders and political figures have cautioned against a Georgia boycott, which could disrupt the livelihoods of tens of thousands of local residents who rely on the movie business, while doing little to alter a court-decided outcome. Rather than risk slashed budgets and job losses, some have pledged to stay in the state but donate their entertainment proceeds to the American Civil Liberties Union and a local voting-rights group.