Georgia is “one of the fastest growing production hubs in the country,” reports The Los Angeles Times. However, that may soon change if an antigay bill called The Free Exercise Protection Act is signed into law. In a statement, Disney and Marvel have threatened to pull their production work out of the state should the bill ultimately get signed.
It’s on the desk of Gov. Nathan Deal as we speak, and he must either sign it or veto by May 3.
If passed, the bill would offer “protections” to any faith-based business that feels providing services to same-sex couples would violate their ardent religious faith.
Of course, opponents think the legislation exists merely to reinforce prejudice and hatred under the pretense of religious “faith.”
A spokesman for Disney issued the following blunt statement:
“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.”
What makes Georgia such an appealing site for television and production work — Ant-Man and Guardians of the Galaxy 2 were both filmed there — are its significant tax incentives. These allow film companies to better wrangle salaries for actors and crew, cutting down on costs all around.
Georgia has been eagerly courting Hollywood studios to do more work in the state; a campaign that could severely stall if the Free Exercise Product Act becomes a reality. Financially, that’s a disaster for The Peach State: $1.7 billion was spent on productions in Georgia in 2015 alone; 247 movie and television projects in all.
The department that helps champion Georgia as an enticing filming destination refused to talk to the Los Angeles Times for their story.
Right now, no other production houses have voiced concern over the bill like Marvel and Disney has, but their stance could easily begin a snowball effect.
Whereas Sony Pictures Entertainment and 20th Century declined to comment, AMC Networks did provide the following statement:
“As a company, AMC Networks believes that discrimination of any kind is reprehensible. We applaud Governor Deal’s leadership in resisting a previous version of this divisive legislation and urge him to reject the current version as well.”
It should be noted that AMC’s popular The Walking Dead films in Georgia.
Chad Griffin, president of the LGBT-focused civil rights organization Human Rights Campaign, agreed.
“It’s appalling that anti-LGBT activists in Georgia are trying to pass legislation creating an explicit right to discriminate against LGBT Americans,” he said. “We urge other studios, major corporations, and fair-minded Georgians to continue speaking out and urging Gov. Deal to veto this heinous piece of legislation sitting on his desk.”