Time Magazine reports that Amazon’s upcoming TV series ‘The Power’ is the first program to pull out of production in Georgia, following the passing of the so-called “heartbeat bill,” which bans abortions after six weeks. ‘The Power’ follows the Lionsgate comedy film, ‘Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar’, co-written by and starring Kristen Wiig, which also pulled out of shooting there. These projects are not expected to be the last to leave, not only Georgia, but Alabama, which just passed a similar bill, and possibly Louisiana, and South Carolina, as similar bills are in the works there.
‘The Power’ is based on the book of the same name by Naomi Alderman, and depicts a reality where women become capable of generating electricity, “shifting gender and power dynamics.” The decision to boycott came from director Reed Morano, who won an Emmy Award for directing episodes of ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’. Morano was supposed to fly to Savannah this week to start pre-production, but she says:
“We had no problem stopping the entire process instantly. There is no way we would ever bring our money to that state by shooting there.”
Just how important is the entertainment industry to Georgia? In 2008, the state passed a 30% tax break to entice the entertainment industry to film there. Last year, TV and film employed 92,000 people and generated $9.5 billion in revenue. According to a study by FilmLA, only ten out of the top 100 movies in 2017 were filmed in California, with 15 having been shot in Georgia. In 2018, 455 TV shows and movies were made in Georgia and generated $4.6 billion in wages.
Similarly, last year, 147 production projects filmed in Alabama, generating $63.5 million in revenue.
And it isn’t just those that work directly in the entertainment industry that have benefited, as Chris Escobar, the executive director of the Atlanta Film Society pointed out, everyone from “florists to caterers to carpenters to electricians” made their livelihood from these productions. The entire town of Senoia was salvaged by hosting AMC’s ‘The Walking Dead’. Among the hundreds of projects filmed in Georgia are ‘Stranger Things’, and many Disney movies, including ‘Black Panther’ and ‘Avengers: Infinity War’.
In 2016, Disney and Netflix threatened to boycott Georgia over an anti-LGBTQ law, which the governor vetoed, so it’s very likely that they will boycott over this bill.
Netflix shows ‘Insatiable’ and ‘Ozark’ were already in production in Georgia, but their stars, Alyssa Milano and Jason Bateman, respectively, have vowed not to work there moving forward. The same is true for director Ron Howard, who is currently shooting his film ‘Hillbilly Elegy’ in the state.
Not everyone is boycotting. HBO’s ‘Lovecraft Country’ will film there, but Jordan Peele’s Monkeypaw Productions and J.J. Abrams’ Bad Robot have promised to donate all episodic fees to Fair Fight Georgia and the ACLU of Georgia to combat the bill.
In 2013, North Carolina watched its film and television industry “evaporate” after a bill was passed requiring transgender individuals to use the restroom of the gender they were assigned at birth. 35 projects were filmed in North Carolina in 2013. Last year, there were only 12.
For his part, Republican Georgia Governor Brian Kemp stated:
“We are the party of freedom and opportunity. We value and protect innocent life — even though that makes C-list celebrities squawk.”