Some of the biggest networks in film and television are threatening to leave the state after Gov. Brian Kemp signed the so-called “heartbeat bill.” The new law makes abortions illegal after a doctor can detect cardiac activity, which some refer to as a fetal heartbeat, at around six weeks into the pregnancy, a time when the embryo has not yet developed a heart.
Industry giants like the Walt Disney Co. and Netflix have told Georgia officials that they would likely stop filming in the state if the law goes into effect, as planned, in 2020.
If the companies make good on their threats, Georgia’s flourishing film industry could suffer.
The state’s industry skyrocketed after a former governor offered an appealing tax incentive for production companies to film in Georgia in 2008. Since then, some of the most-watched movies and shows have been filmed in Georgia, including AMC’s “The Walking Dead,” Netflix’s “Stranger Things” and Disney’s “Guardians of the Galaxy.”
Here are the companies saying they will wait and see whether they will pull production projects from Georgia in response to the anti-abortion law.
Netflix, one of the most popular streaming services, promised it would join the American Civil Liberties Union in its fight against Georgia’s new law.
Ted Sarandos, the company’s chief content officer, told Variety on Tuesday that Netflix would have to “rethink our entire investment in Georgia” should it lose its fight and the law goes into effect.
Netflix’s “Stranger Things” and “Raising Dion,” an upcoming series, are filmed in Georgia.
Reversing Roe: A new documentary about the state of abortion and women’s rights in America. September 13. pic.twitter.com/AX75YJUgB6
— Netflix US (@netflix) September 4, 2018 NBCUniversal
A spokesperson for NBCUniversal, which operates under Comcast Corp., didn’t explicitly name Georgia in an interview with Reuters but did say that an abortion ban would influence its decisions.
“If any of these laws are upheld, it would strongly impact our decision-making on where we produce our content in the future,” the company told Reuters.
Bob Iger, Disney’s chief executive officer, said that a law severely restricting abortion rights would make it “very difficult” for the company to continue filming in Georgia.
“I rather doubt we will [film in Georgia if the ban takes effect],” Iger told Reuters ahead of the opening of a new “Star Wars” section at Disneyland on Thursday.
“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,” he added.
Disney-distributed blockbusters, such as “Black Panther” and “Avengers: Endgame,” were filmed in Georgia. Walt Disney Co. also owns the ABC Television Group.
WarnerMedia will walk away from Georgia if the law takes effect. The company operates several popular cable networks, including HBO, TNT and TBS, as well as its film distribution unit, Warner Bros.
In a statement, the company said it would watch legislation closely while respecting “due process.”
“If the new law holds we will reconsider Georgia as the home to any new productions. As is always the case, we will work closely with our production partners and talent to determine how and where to shoot any given project,” the company said.
HBO’s “Watchmen” is partly filmed in Georgia.
Viacom issued a brief statement Thursday on Georgia’s abortion law, saying the company would monitor the “situation in Georgia,” according to the Los Angeles Times.
“Should the new law ever take effect, we will assess whether we will continue to produce projects in Georgia.”
Viacom owns Paramount Pictures, Comedy Central, MTV, Nickelodeon and CMT.
This just in from Viacom:“We are closely monitoring the situation in Georgia and expect the legislation will be subject to significant legal challenges. Should the new law ever take effect, we will assess whether we will continue to produce projects in Georgia.”
— Meg James (@MegJamesLAT) May 30, 2019 AMC Networks
The company behind the cult-favorite zombie show “The Walking Dead” said it would “reevaluate” its “activity in Georgia” if the law goes into effect, according to a statement obtained by BuzzFeed
AMC said it would be closely watching the “long and complicated fight” over the legislation, which it described as “highly restrictive.”
“Ozark” on the cable network is also filmed in Georgia.
— Kate Aurthur (@KateAurthur) May 30, 2019 CBS and Showtime
CBS Corp., which owns the Showtime network, said in a statement Thursday that the company will monitor the developments stemming from Georgia’s anti-abortion law, noting that it expects it to “play out for some time.”
In the meantime, the company and its subsidiaries will continue production in the state for the next season.
However, the company warned that Georgia, or other states, may no longer be “viable” locations for productions if any law restricting abortion rights takes effect.
“The ability to attract the best talent is the first step in producing great entertainment content and is always an important consideration in where we film any series,” the company said.
CBS/Showtime join production companies voicing concern about Georgia anti-abortion law: "If the law takes effect in Georgia or elsewhere, these may not be viable locations for our future production.” pic.twitter.com/7IhLf20rmb