Netflix has decided to get political.
And that doesn’t mean a new season of “House of Cards” or a remake of “The West Wing”.
In the wake of the Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp signing a controversial abortion statute into law last week, the media streaming giant has threatened to leave the state behind when it comes to investing production dollars.
The law would outlaw abortions after the detection of a fetal heartbeat. Georgia joined Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi and Ohio in enacting similar legislation.
Ted Sarandos, Netflix’s chief content officer, told Variety that the law will impact the rights of millions of women in the state.
“It’s why we will work with the ACLU and others to fight it in court,” he 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.”
Shares of Netflix were trading down 2.2% at $347.11 by lunchtime Wednesday on the East Coast.
Netflix films its popular show “Stranger Things” in Georgia and plans to shoot a science-fiction show “Raising Dion” starring Michael B. Jordan soon.
Georgia has become, in a sense, Hollywood South thanks to offering a 30% tax rebate to film companies who elect to shoot in the state. Since the 2008 tax rebate went into effect, Pinewood Studios has built 18 soundstages and a 400-acre backlot in Atlanta.
Additionally, movies like the “Hunger Games” trilogy, “Black Panther” and “Avengers: Endgame” all were filmed in Georgia. The state has also been home to “The Walking Dead” television series, all according to MarketWatch. According to state officials, 455 film and television productions were shot in Georgia in 2018, accounting for $2.7 billion in direct spending. In all, those productions lead to a total economic impact of $9.5 billion last year.
Joining Netflix in applying pressure to the state were actors like former “Who’s the Boss” star and current left-wing political activist Alyssa Milano, who sent a letter to Kemp suggesting she would never work in Georgia again until the bill was rescinded. The letter was signed by fellow actors Patricia Arquette, Alec Baldwin, “Endgame” star Don Cheadle, Laverne Cox and Amy Schumer.
To @BrianKempGA & Speaker Ralston:
Attached, is an open letter signed by 50 actors against #HB481. On behalf of the undersigned–as people often called to work in GA or those of us contractually bound to work in GA–we hope you'll reconsider signing this bill. #HBIsBadForBusiness pic.twitter.com/DsOmAWYU2x
— Alyssa Milano (@Alyssa_Milano) March 28, 2019
So while Hollywood flexes its muscles in the political arena, one thing should be pointed out.
While Netflix and other members of the Hollywood establishment seem poised to poke their heads in government, other, even stronger members of that same establishment have remained remarkably quiet regarding the latest abortion bill.
Media outlets have reached out to other entities like Disney, TimeWarner, AMC and NBCUniversal, but all have remained silent. This would provide the perfect opportunity to cash in on some free publicity by speaking out against the bill.
But so far, crickets.
Perhaps this is too touchy a topic to delve into for the establishment. Perhaps the 30% tax credit on filming is too big of an incentive to walk away from. Or, perhaps, like with any business, if you don’t like it, move on to somewhere else.
According to the website filmproductioncapital.com, there are many other states that have embraced the economic boom from incentivizing film. States like Massachusetts, North Carolina, New Mexico and Louisiana to name a few.
Another reason why the Hollywood establishment may be shying away from making a big splash over this particular bill is because it hasn’t yet been enacted. Undoubtedly, this bill (along with Alabama’s even stronger abortion bill) will likely be challenged in the courts, eventually setting up a Roe v. Wade showdown.
Editor’s note: Whether you agree with Netflix’s stance on this issue or not, is the company shooting itself in the foot here by taking a political stand on such a hot-button topic? We’ve seen past controversies — like with Nike and Colin Kaepernick — that hurt the company’s stock, at least in the short-term. Will you consider dumping your shares of Netflix, or buying some after this? Share your thoughts in the comments below.