(UPDATED, 12:56 PM with AMC statement) Disney has made big movies like the upcoming Captain America: Civil War in Georgia, and with the state’s lucrative tax incentives likely has planned to make more – but maybe not now.
“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,” said a Disney spokesman today over a bill that the Georgia legislature has passed. House Bill 757 would permit faith-based groups and organizations in the state to discriminate based on sexuality.
Following the lead of the NFL, warnings from the MPAA and cries for action from the Human Rights Campaign Fund, Disney is the first Hollywood studio to tell the Peach State it will take its business elsewhere if Gov. Nathan Deal signs the bill now on his desk. Right now, Guardians Of The Galaxy 2 is filming at Pinewood Studios just outside Atlanta. The Governor’s office did not respond to request for comment on Disney’s statement today but Deal has until May 3 to sign or not sign the Free Exercise Protection Act
While the first studio threaten to walk away from the state on this issue, Disney is obviously far from the only heavyweight that films in Atlanta and other parts of production heavy Georgia. Among the many features and series working in the state, AMC’s blockbuster The Walking Dead and Halt & Catch Fire shoots in Georgia too.“As a company, AMC Networks believes that discrimination of any kind is reprehensible,” a spokesman for the cabler said Wednesday. “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.”
As well as filing by the likes of Disney and AMC and many more in Georgia, Tyler Perry is opening his new studio complex at the former Fort McPherson Army Base in southwest Atlanta. The director-actor-producer has said when completed the complex will be “bigger than Warner Bros.”
The Free Exercise Protection Act AKA House Bill 757 passed through the state Assembly last week. The legislation aims in part “to provide that religious officials shall not be required to perform marriage ceremonies in violation of their legal right to free exercise of religion,” and allows faith-based organizations to not hire or provide services to those who “violate such faith-based organization’s sincerely held religious belief.” Deal, a Republican who was re-elected in 2014, has indicated he will review the bill in April and told the Atlanta-Journal Constitution he had a tough decision to make.
In addition to generous tax credits that draw productions to the state, the city of Atlanta hopes to land a Super Bowl in the near future after its new stadium for the Atlanta Falcons is due to open in 2017. A hope that an NFL spokesperson cautioned late last week could be burst if local laws do not meet league polices that “emphasize tolerance and inclusiveness, and prohibit discrimination based on age, gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, or any other improper standard.”