Will Smith and director Antoine Fuqua have announced that they are pulling their new movie, Emancipation, from Georgia because of the state’s new voting law.
The slavery-era drama is the first major film or TV production to leave the state and specifically cite the new voting law signed in March and contains an array of measures that make it more difficult for Georgians to vote, Yahoo News reported.
In a statement to Yahoo, Smith and Fuqua said:
“At this moment in time, the nation is coming to terms with its history and is attempting to eliminate vestiges of institutional racism to achieve true racial justice. We cannot in good conscience provide economic support to a government that enacts regressive voting laws that are designed to restrict voter access. The new Georgia voting laws are reminiscent of voting impediments that were passed at the end of Reconstruction to prevent many Americans from voting. Regrettably, we feel compelled to move our film production work from Georgia to another state.”
— Westbrook (@WestbrookInc) April 12, 2021
Due to large tax incentives in the state, Georgia a hub for filming studios as well as sporting events. Earlier this month the MLB announced that it was relocating the All-Star game in protest to the blatant voter suppression in the state’s new legislation. It is uncertain if anymore Hollywood films would pull out of the state.
Tyler Perry and his massive Tyler Perry Studios complex are nestled in Atlanta; he has openly critical of Governor Brian Kemp and state GOP members of their new regulations that limit a large number of Georgia’s resident’s access to voting.
“As a Georgia resident and business owner, I’ve been here a few times with the anti-abortion bill and the LGBTQ discrimination bill,” Perry said in a statement.
Perry has not pulled out any productions and encourages business owners not to underestimate themselves in this fight against voter suppression.
“As some consider boycotting, please remember that we did turn Georgia blue and there is a gubernatorial race on the horizon – that’s the beauty of a democracy,” Perry said according to a report from Deadline.
An open opponent to the voting law, Stacey Abrams, has also cautioned boycotting, stating that it gives Gov. Kemp someone else to blame for the results of his actions.
“The Governor of Georgia is reveling in the potential of a boycott because it gives him someone to blame for his own actions. Unlike previous boycotts I’ve worked in the South, the length of time it takes for a big concerted effort to take effect, it can be devastating to an economy, devastating to people,” Abrams said at a panel discussion according to The Hollywood Reporter.
Production on Emancipation was to begin this summer. The film is based on a true story and stars Smith as Peter, a runaway slave who joins the Union Army and journeys up north from Louisiana.
Fuqua will direct the film.