While the major studios watch and wait to see if a controversial new bill signed by Georgia Governor Brian Kemp goes into effect, Hollywood players are evaluating the prospect of boycotting the production hub, insiders told Variety. Kemp will also visit Los Angeles in the coming months to meet with top executives, where the legislation will likely come up, numerous individuals familiar with the trip said.
Outrage from the likes of prolific indie producers Christine Vachon (“Carol”) and Mark Duplass (“Creep”) has been rolling in since Kemp signed HB 481 on Tuesday, which would outlaw abortions after the detection of a fetal heartbeat. Stars like Alyssa Milano — currently living in Georgia, on the set of the Netflix original “Insatiable” — said they would exit what has become a booming local film economy in the name of female reproductive rights. Film distributor Oscilloscope Labs was less subtle, tweeting “F—. THIS. HEARTBEAT. BILL. BULLS—.”
Thanks to an attractive 30% production tax rebate, Georgia is a domestic hot spot for film and TV shoots. Kemp’s Los Angeles trip has been scheduled for some time, one of the insiders added, and is expected to occur by the end of July. Meanwhile. his so-called “heartbeat bill” has inspired chatter all over Los Angeles as top players take a hard look at what the symbolic gesture might mean for bottom lines.
“It’s nowhere near as easy as you think it is,” said one half of an Emmy-winning producing team, speaking to Variety on the condition of anonymity. “For the people who have invested there, there’s deep infrastructure. You can’t just yank it out.”
Indeed, content giants like Netflix and Walt Disney Studios have become reliant on lush facilities like Atlanta’s Pinewood Studios, which boasts 18 sound stages ranging from 15,000 to 40,000 square feet and a 400-acre backlot. Films from “Captain America: Civil War” to “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” have shot there.
The boycott threat also extends to many local and visiting artisans and craftspeople, as well as their families. One top executive at a streaming company singled out workers like carpenters, who are so desperately needed in the state to build sets that a huge faction from Los Angeles has moved permanent residency to Georgia.
While studios individually declined to comment on the matter, their collective voice in Washington — the Motion Picture Association of America — confirmed that economic reality this week.
“Film and television production in Georgia supports more than 92,000 jobs and brings significant economic benefits to communities,” an MPAA spokesperson said Wednesday, adding the group would “continue to monitor developments.”
Others in power positions are making more strategic moves. Late on Friday, Jordan Peele’s Monkeypaw Productions and J.J. Abrams’ Bad Robot Productions announced that their HBO series “Lovecraft Country” would continue to shoot in Georgia as planned, but that money from the production would be donated to two charities fighting the anti-abortion law. Insiders close to the production said the donation was made to bolster politician Stacey Abrams’ crusade to prevent the bill from becoming law.
The law, set to go into effect on Jan. 1, includes exceptions for rape and incest (if a woman files a police report) or to save the life of the mother).
Read some notable Hollywood reactions:
Gene Maddaus contributed to this report.