In the latest round of Hollywood going to war over state laws, The Walt Disney Company and AMC, the network that owns the wildly popular show “The Walking Dead,” has joined the fray of critics like CBS, NBC, Viacom, Netflix and Sony in hammering on Georgia’s new anti-abortion law.
IGER: “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.”
The news came on the eve of Disney opening its new “Star Wars” attraction at Disneyland, which opens today. The company plans a similar venture at its Disney World park in Orlando later this year.
In an interview with Reuters, Disney CEO Bob Iger said it would be “very difficult” for the film company to continue filming in Georgia, if the abortion law ends up going into effect.
“I rather doubt we will,” Iger said, regarding whether the company would continue filming in Georgia. “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.
“I don’t see how it’s practical for us to continue to shoot there.”
AMC’s “The Walking Dead” has filmed in Georgia for a decade now, and the network also released a statement on the issue.
“If this highly restrictive legislation goes into effect, we will reevaluate our activity in Georgia,” said a spokesperson. “Similar bills — some even more restrictive — have passed in multiple states and have been challenged. This is likely to be a long and complicated fight and we are watching it all very closely.”
Disney stock was close to flat throughout the day Friday, down 0.1% at $132.10 at 2 p.m. on the East Coast. The company’s stock had rallied to a high of nearly $140 per share on April 26.
Iger’s and AMC’s comments come after Georgia Gov. Brian Deal signed a law outlawing abortions after the detection of a fetal heartbeat. Georgia joined Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi and Ohio in enacting similar legislation.
Earlier this week, media streaming giant Netflix also said it would fight the measure and threatened to pull its production out of the state if the law goes into effect.
“It’s why we will work with the ACLU and others to fight it in court,” Ted Sarandos, Netflix chief content officer said, in a statement provided to Variety. “Given the legislation has not yet been implemented, we’ll continue to film there, while also supporting partners and artists who choose not to. Should it ever come into effect, we’d rethink our entire investment in Georgia.”
The state has become sort of a “Hollywood South” because of massive tax breaks it offers production companies to film there. According to the state, the economic impact of productions in 2018 amounted to $9.5 billion and about 92,000 jobs.
In a report from USA Today, Lionsgate comedy “Barb and Star Go To Vista Del Mar,” starring Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolo, along with the Amazon series “The Power” will move its production from the state because of the law.
Despite the recent outcry from some of Hollywood’s elite, other production companies like TimeWarner, AMC and NBCUniversal have remained silent on the law and whether they would continue production activities in the state.
The 30% tax credit offered by the state is a large incentive to walk away from. It is higher than tax credits offered in Alabama (25%), California (25%), Hawaii (20%), Louisiana (25%) and Massachusetts (25%), according to filmproductioncapital.com.
Editor’s note: This has quickly become a hot-button topic among major networks and entertainment vehicles both Republicans and Democrats enjoy, melding business with politics. Are these companies risking boycotts or stock sell-offs? Considering Nike wasn’t hurt at all and actually came out ahead in the long-term from its backing of Colin Kaepernick, would boycott attempts be powerful enough to make these companies think otherwise, or pointless? Share your thoughts in the comments below.