Disney echoes Netflix, CEO Bob Iger says it would be 'very difficult' to continue filming in Georgia if abortion ban takes effect
Georgia is one of 16 states to have introduced legislation to restrict abortion rights in 2019, and Disney's reluctance to work in the state in the future might prove costly.
Right on the heels of Netflix announcing that it would rethink their investment strategy in Georgia following the signing of its controversial fetal heartbeat bill into law, Disney has echoed the sentiment, saying it would be "very difficult" to continue filming in the state.
According to Reuters, the view was expressed by none other than Walt Disney chief executive Bob Iger during an interview before the dedication of a new "Star Wars" section at Disneyland this past Wednesday, May 29.
"I rather doubt we will," Iger answered when asked if the company would film further projects in Georgia. "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."
The law will come into effect on Jan 1, 2020, if it is not struck down by any of the courts, and Iger said, in such a scenario, he doesn't "see how it's practical for us to continue to shoot there."
At the time of its passing this past March, Georgia's bill, the HB 481, was one of the strictest abortion laws in the country and prohibited abortions after a heartbeat could be detected in a fetus, which is usually when the woman is six weeks pregnant.
The state's Republican Governor, Brian Kemp, who had vowed during his campaign to "sign the toughest abortion laws in the country" and promised to "fight for life at the Capitol and in the courtroom," subsequently signed it on May 7.
Stacey Adams, a former gubernatorial candidate and a staunch opponent of the bill, called it a "forced pregnancy bill," and now, several from the entertainment industry are beginning to take a stricter stance against the state.
It could prove to have a significant economic impact, especially considering how the state's 30% tax credit for productions shot within its borders meant they attracted 450 films and television projects last fiscal year. These projects happened to include two of Disney's biggest hits in the past two years, 'Black Panther' and 'Avengers: Infinity War,' which grossed a combined $2.4 billion at the box office.
The Georgia Governor's Office reported that those projects, along with the others, had driven $4.5 billion in wages — the Motion Picture Association of America said the industry is responsible for 92,000 jobs in Georgia — and had an economic impact of $9.5 billion in the state. They also revealed film and TV production had generated $2.7 billion in direct spending for the fiscal year ending June 30.
Bills to restrict abortion rights have been introduced in 16 states in 2019 alone, with four of those — Alabama, Georgia, Missouri, and Ohio — signing it into law after it was passed by the legislatures.
Four others — Iowa, Kentucky, Mississippi, and North Dakota — have also signed such a law into effect in recent times but have seen them struck down by either state or federal courts, with the flurry coming as part of a renewed push to have the now-Conservative majority Supreme Court take another look at its 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling.