Amid the backlash to Georgia’s sweeping overhaul of voting rights, Hollywood heavyweights are threatening economic consequences for the production-friendly state and calling for a federal investigation.
The controversial new law requires a state-issued ID for absentee voting, limits the number of ballot drop boxes and makes it illegal to hand out food products and water to those waiting in line to cast their votes, among other measures criticized as efforts by the Republican-controlled legislature as efforts to suppress voting rights.
The law has drawn rebukes from Democrats, including President Joe Biden and former Georgia state representative turned voting activist Stacey Abrams, who has dedicated her work to making it easier for people of color and those in low-income communities to vote in Georgia.
On Tuesday, Tyler Perry became the latest filmmaker to speak out, encouraging the the Department of Justice to evaluate the law and saying that it “harkens to the Jim Crow era.” Perry’s ascent as an independent mogul during the past two decades has paralleled Atlanta’s rise to prominence as a production hub.
“As a Georgia resident and business owner I’ve been here a few times with the anti-abortion bill and the LGBTQ discrimination bill. They all sent a shockwave through Georgia and the nation but none of them managed to succeed,” Perry said. “I’m resting my hope in the DOJ taking a hard look at this unconstitutional voter suppression law that harkens to the Jim Crow era. As some consider boycotting, please remember that we did turn Georgia blue and there is a gubernatorial race on the horizon — that’s the beauty of a democracy.”
The push by Georgia officials to revise rules regarding mail-in balloting, access to the polls and tightening identity requirements is part of a larger national push in many GOP-dominated states to respond to baseless claims made by former President Donald Trump about widespread voter fraud costing him the 2020 presidential election — claims that were rejected last year by dozens of judges going all the way up to the Supreme Court.
Other Hollywood players, like director James Mangold and actor Mark Hamill, have vowed to boycott film and television production in Georgia while the new voting law is in place.
Mangold, who directed “Logan” and “Ford v. Ferrari,” declared on Twitter: “I will not direct a film in Georgia.”
For Hollywood to abandon Georgia — which has offered generous tax incentives for TV series like “Lovecraft Country” and has been home to multiple Marvel films — would mean the loss of billions in production spending. The Peach state faced similar threats in 2019 when Gov. Brian Kemp signed a bill banning abortion at six weeks’ gestation. The law was later struck down by a federal judge but not before major Hollywood studios, Netflix and others vowed to avoid the state in protest and out of concern for female employees.
Here’s a sampling of how Hollywood is responding to Georgia’s new voting rights law:
I will not direct a film in Georgia.
— Mangold (@mang0ld) March 26, 2021
Hamill later tweeted that he agreed with the boycott, writing: “Absolutely! #NoMoreFilmingInGeorgia.”
— Mark Hamill (@HamillHimself) March 27, 2021
However, others in Hollywood have countered that boycotting film production in the state would actually do more harm than good by putting many out of work.
Franklin Leonard, founder of The Black List, responded to Mangold’s tweet with: “I’m from Georgia, as is my family going back to literal enslavement. While I understand the instinct, I hope you’ll reconsider and seek guidance on the best way forward from those who have been doing the work on the ground there – Black women in particular.”
I'm from Georgia, as is my family going back to literal enslavement.
While I understand the instinct, I hope you'll reconsider and seek guidance on the best way forward from those who have been doing the work on the ground there – Black women in particular.
— Franklin Leonard (@franklinleonard) March 27, 2021
The voting rights effort New Georgia Project also asked Mangold to reconsider the boycott, tweeting: “So appreciate your passion; if you’re looking for impactful ways to fight back that don’t double down on harm to Georgians, we’d love to chat.”
So appreciate your passion; if you’re looking for impactful ways to fight back that don’t double down on harm to Georgians, we’d love to chat.
— New Georgia Project (@NewGAProject) March 26, 2021
Cynthia Littleton contributed to this report.
(Pictured: Tyler Perry)