Walt Disney Company CEO Bob Iger says his film and TV studios are likely to vacate Georgia as a production hub if the state’s controversial heartbeat abortion bill becomes law.
Speaking with Reuters at Disney’s theme park in Anaheim, Calif., Iger said it would be “very difficult” for the content giant to remain in the face of the legislation. The bill seeks to ban abortion after the detection of a fetal heartbeat,
“I rather doubt we will,” he continued. “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 divisions like Marvel have deep ties in the state, where films like “Black Panther” have rolled and four different Marvel TV series, starring the likes of Elizabeth Olsen and Anthony Mackie, are expected to shoot.
Disney becomes only the second Hollywood company with interest in the state to speak out, joining Netflix. On Tuesday, the streamer’s chief content officer Ted Sarandos exclusively told Variety the company would “rethink” its similarly extensive investment should the bill signed by Georgia Governor Brian Kemp pass. Many studios and producers have been watching and waiting in silence, expecting the bill to get struck down in higher courts.
Georgia has been a lighting rod in the debate thanks to its generous 30% production tax incentive, which has created a veritable Southern offshoot of Los Angeles in the past decade. Protests are erupting on the ground and across social media as seven other states — including Alabama, Missouri and Ohio — also adopt anti-abortion laws.
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Calls for a flat-out boycott continue to gain traction across the industry, despite a move from several high-profile filmmakers to keep their productions in Georgia but donate their salaries and fees to the ACLU and local activist groups combating the legislation. Creators behind those shows include J.J. Abrams and Jordan Peele, Peter Chernin and Jenno Topping, and Ron Howard and Brian Grazer’s Imagine Entertainment.
Read Variety’s in-depth report about Hollywood and the heartbeat bill conflict here.