UPDATED with addditional statements: A day after Disney CEO Bob Iger said it would be “difficult” for the media giant to produce TV shows and films in Georgia given its strict new abortion law, a handful of major media companies have added their voices to the chorus in a series of statements.
Following reservations expressed by Iger, Netflix and others, WarnerMedia, CBS, Showtime, NBCUniversal, AMC Networks, Sony Pictures, STX and Viacom all said they would consider withdrawing from the state if the law survives legal challenges.
“We operate and produce work in many states and within several countries at any given time and while that doesn’t mean we agree with every position taken by a state or a country and their leaders, we do respect due process,” WarnerMedia said. “We will watch the situation closely and 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.”
A joint statement from CBS and Showtime noted, “Creative voices across our industry have expressed strong concern about the recently signed bill in Georgia.” It continued, “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. We are monitoring the legislative and legal developments in Georgia with the full expectation that the process in the courts will play out for some time. For now, we will continue producing our series based there that have production orders for next season. If the law takes effect in Georgia or elsewhere, these may not be viable locations for our future production.”
NBCUniversal said it is keeping a close watch on the events unfolding in Georgia and other states where similar laws have recently passed.
“We fully expect that the heartbeat bills and similar laws in various states will face serious legal challenges and will not go into effect while the process proceeds in court,” NBCU’s statement said. “If any of these laws are upheld, it would strongly impact our decision-making on where we produce our content in the future.”
AMC Networks, whose mainstay The Walking Dead is currently shooting its 10th season in Atlanta, also said it was taking a closer look. “If this highly restrictive legislation goes into effect, we will reevaluate our activity in Georgia,” the company said. “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.”
STX said that its current production Greenland, would continued shooting in the state for now, but would reassess if the bill becomes law.
“As many of you know, when Georgia Governor Brian Kemp signed the HB 481 ‘fetal heartbeat’ bill into law on May 7th, STX was in pre-production on the film Greenland in Atlanta, GA,” the company wrote today. “While the bill has not yet come into effect, we do not believe it represents the will of the people in Georgia. After thoughtful consideration about how best to move forward, we feel that relocating production would penalize the hundreds of talented crew members who would abruptly be out of jobs. In an effort to aid those on the ground fighting to reverse this legislation, STX will be making a donation to the ACLU of Georgia. Should HB 481 ever officially come into effect, we will reassess filming any future projects in the state.
By offering rich tax incentives in recent years, Georgia has joined the front ranks of states for film and television production. More than $2 billion in economic activity is generated through production, according to the state film commission. That spending has been threatened by the Republican-controlled state legislature’s decision to craft a law designed to challenge the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision. As a result, a range of productions have pulled out or reconsidered the state and Netflix has vowed to steer clear.
Eight states have passed restrictive abortion laws in recent weeks. Georgia’s law, which is slated to take effect January 1, would outlaw abortions after the sixth week of pregnancy, which is earlier than many women become aware they are pregnant. The Supreme Court has shifted this decade to a Republican majority, a fact cited by many abortion opponents in their bid to undo the 1973 Roe landmark.
AT&T-owned WarnerMedia has long maintained a major presence in Atlanta, with CNN and Turner Sports operating there for several decades. Those long-term holdings are not eligible for the state tax incentives, so the company’s outlook pertains to individual productions across its portfolio, including Warner Bros, HBO and the former Turner networks.
Beyond WarnerMedia, major companies such as Coca-Cola and Home Depot call Georgia home, giving the state a significant corporate foundation unlikely be affected by the dispute over the legislation.
Hedging a bit more than the others, Sony Pictures followed the lead of the MPAA, which has urged companies to let the legal process play out before reaching any long-term decisions. “We will continue to monitor that process in close consultation with our filmmakers and television showrunners, talent and other stakeholders as we consider our future production options,” a Sony spokesman said.
Viacom‘s sentiment was similar in its statement Thursday.
“We are closely monitoring the situation in Georgia and expect the legislation will be subject to significant legal challenges,” a spokesperson said. “Should the new law ever take effect, we will assess whether we will continue to produce projects in Georgia.”