Walt Disney Company Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Bob Iger said on Wednesday it would be “very difficult” for the media giant to continue filming in Georgia should the state’s controversial new abortion law take effect.
On May 7, Georgia’s Republican governor Brian Kemp signed a ban on abortion after a doctor can detect a fetal heartbeat — about six weeks into a pregnancy, before many women know they are actually pregnant.
Speaking to Reuters in an interview ahead of the dedication for a new “Star Wars” section at Disneyland in Anaheim, CA, Iger said, “I rather doubt we will,” when asked if Disney would keep filming in the Peach State. “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.”
Disney has filmed blockbuster movies in Georgia such as “Black Panther” and “Avengers: Endgame,” which means that should the entertainment giant stop filming there, it would be to the detriment of the state’s ongoing attempts to create production jobs.
The so-called Heartbeat Bill is due to take effect on January 1, if it outlasts expected court challenges.
Iger’s announcement follows Tuesday’s news that streaming giant Netflix would rethink its “entire” film and television production investment in Georgia, where it has filmed popular series “Stranger Things” and “Ozark” — if the law goes into effect.
“We have many women working on productions in Georgia, whose rights, along with millions of others, will be severely restricted by this law,” Netflix Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos said.
Additionally, on Thursday, WarnerMedia and NBCUniversal joined the chorus.
WarnerMedia issued a statement on Thursday 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 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.”
Among the projects that the company is currently filming in the state are “The Conjuring 3,” and the Jordan Peele/HBO serial adaptation of “Lovecraft County.” It is scheduled to begin filming the sequel to “Suicide Squad” there as well.
Meanwhile, Comcast’s NBCUniversal added via company statement, “If any of these laws are upheld, it would strongly impact our decision making on where we produce our content in the future.”
Georgia offers a favorable tax credit that has attracted several film and TV productions. According to the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), the entertainment industry is responsible for more than 92,000 jobs in the state, while roughly 455 productions were shot in Georgia in 2018, according to the state.
It has become a hub for film and TV, with productions bringing the state an estimated $2.7 billion in revenue in 2017.
Georgia is one of eight states — including Ohio, Missouri, and Alabama — to pass anti-abortion legislation so far this year, with the collective goal being to force the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 landmark case that established a woman’s right to terminate her pregnancy.
Previous attempts to pass a heartbeat law – in North Dakota, Iowa, Kentucky and Mississippi – have been struck down by courts as unconstitutional under the 1973 decision.