Is this the end of Georgia’s film industry?
In what may singlehandedly drastically cripple Georgia’s film industry, Walt Disney Co. is threatening to no longer film in the state of Georgia if an anti-gay bill is signed into law there.
The Free Exercise Protection Act is currently sitting on the desk of Gov. Nathan Deal, who has until May 3 to decide whether to veto it. Hollywood business totaling over 9.5 billion dollars in the state of Georgia could come to a halt.
The law, which was passed by Georgia lawmakers on March 16th, would offer protection to businesses that refuse to provide services that violate their beliefs. If it becomes law, the proposed legislation would eliminate safeguards for opponents of same-sex marriage.
Critics see Free Exercise Protection Act allows for the practice of discrimination.
“Disney and Marvel are inclusive companies, and although we have had great experiences filming in Georgia, we will plan to take our business elsewhere should any legislation allowing discriminatory practices be signed into state law,” a spokesman for Burbank-based Disney said.
While Disney, the world’s largest entertainment company, is calling for a boycott, rival studios are not paying attention to the issue. Currently, 20th Century Fox, Universal Pictures, Paramount Pictures, Warner Bros. and Sony Pictures Entertainment have not said they would stop filming in the state if the Free Exercise Protection Act becomes law.
In a statement to The Los Angeles Times from the Motion Picture Assn. of America, the trade organization representing the studios. “We are confident that Governor Deal will not allow a discriminatory bill to become law in Georgia,” said the statement from Vans Stevenson, the MPAA senior vice president of state government affairs.
“The rest of the industry has been relatively silent thus far,” said Joseph Chianese, executive vice president of EP Financial Solutions, a production incentive consultant. “Disney being the first and strongest voice I believe is going to have a rippling effect. I’m proud and happy that Disney was the first — they are the 800-pound gorilla.”
Georgia has become the home for many TV shows and movies because of the state’s attractive tax incentives offered to studios that film there. However, if the Free Exercise Protection Act is signed into law, it could undermine Georgia’s success and entice more Hollywood businesses to take their money elsewhere.
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