Local entertainment insider Brian Tolleson warned that major feature film production companies would leave Georgia if Governor Deal signs HB 757 into law. This past week, his warnings were confirmed when major feature film company, Disney, issued a statement in fierce opposition to the License to Discriminate bill.
On Wednesday, Disney delivered a hard-hitting ultimatum when it threatened to move production of its Marvel franchise films out of Georgia if Governor Deal signs HB 757:
Disney and Marvel are inclusive companies, and although we have had great experiences filming in Georgia, we will plan to take our business elsewhere should any legislation allowing discriminatory practices be signed into state law.
Governor Deal championed a quarter billion dollars’ worth of tax credits to attract feature film companies to Georgia. These credits were instrumental to the production of Marvel films produced in Georgia, including the upcoming Captain America: Civil War and Guardians of the Galaxy 2. If the Governor signs Georgia’s License to Discriminate bill into law, he will have wasted billions of taxpayer dollars in efforts to attract companies like Disney to the state only to drive them away with discriminatory legislation.
And Disney isn’t the only major entertainment company to publicly denounce HB 757. AMC, the company behind The Walking Dead—the third-most watched show on TV, that filmed all six critically acclaimed seasons in Georgia—followed Disney’s lead with a statement urging Governor Deal to veto HB 757.
As a company, AMC Networks believes that discrimination of any kind is reprehensible. We applaud Governor Deal’s leadership in resisting a previous version of this divisive legislation and urge him to reject the current version as well.
More recently, major television networks, including Time Warner—parent company to CNN, with three divisions (HBO, Turner and Warner Bros.) with business in Georgia—denounced the License to Discriminate bill. And just today, Netflix declared it will join Disney in ditching Georgia and relocate production of two forth-coming series if the Governor signs discriminatory HB 757.
The state also stands to lose business of notable film studio, The Weinstein Company—whose top grossing films include Django Unchained, The King’s Speech, and Silver Linings Playbook. The company is planning to film a Richard Pryor biopic featuring A-list celebrities like Oprah, Eddy Murphy and Tracy Morgan in Georgia but is more than prepared to relocate if Gov. Deal signs state-sanctioned discrimination into law:
The Weinstein Company will not stand behind sanctioning the discrimination of LGBT people or any American.[The company] will move the production if this unlawful bill is enacted. We hope Governor Deal will veto bill HB 757 and not allow sanctioned bigotry to become law in Georgia.
Governor Deal justified this year’s astronomical investment in film industry tax credits by citing the number of jobs that would be created and the influx of new revenue to Georgia’s economy. Trade groups estimate that the film and television industry is responsible for more than 79,000 jobs, roughly $4 billion in wages and has helped bring 120 more firms to Georgia in the past seven years, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Not only does HB 757 threaten these much-needed jobs and revenue, taxpayers will be out the quarter-billion dollar investment that Governor Deal promised would pay off. If Governor Deal intends to make good on his promises of economic prosperity and to continue to grow Georgia’s brand as the Hollywood of the south, he should veto HB 757 without delay.SHARE THIS STORY