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Disney, Netflix cite difficulties to film in Georgia amid new abortion laws


Three of the world's biggest entertainment companies, including Netflix, Disney and Warner Media, on Thursday said that they may stop producing movies and televised shows in Georgia if the state's new and highly restrictive abortion law takes effect.
A fourth company, Comcast's NBCUniversal, also reiterated that the spread of these anti-abortion bills, if upheld by the courts, "would strongly impact our decision-making on where we produce our content in the future", CNN reported.
Disney CEO Bob Iger reportedly noted that it would be "very difficult" for the company to continue filming in Georgia amid such conditions.
"I think many people who work for us will not want to work there, and we will have to heed their wishes in that regard. Right now, we are watching it very carefully," he was quoted as saying.
Iger's comments were the strongest sign so far that Hollywood could pull back from Georgia, which is a hub for the entertainment industry production, for offering generous tax breaks to filmmakers and producers.
But the companies are warning that they might have to give up those tax incentives and leave the state, flexing their financial muscles in a way that's guaranteed to get the attention of local political leaders.
Earlier this month Georgia's governor, Brian Kemp, signed a bill that would ban abortions if a fetal heartbeat can be detected, usually about six weeks of pregnancy.
The restrictive new law that challenges the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and women's rights groups is set to take effect on January 1.
Prominent celebrities and some production companies have vowed to boycott Georgia as a result. But the deep pockets of Netflix and Disney mean the companies have louder voices. They are citing the concerns of the predominantly liberal-leaning stars and producers who make their comedies, dramas and other productions.
When the bill was signed into law, the heads of several production companies said they would not film in the state. They included Christine Vachon, chief executive officer of Killer Films; David Simon, creator of "The Wire" and "The Deuce" who heads Blown Deadline Productions; and Mark Duplass of Duplass Brothers Productions.
Netflix, in a statement issued on Tuesday, said, "We have many women working on productions in Georgia, whose rights, along with millions of others, will be severely restricted by this law."
"It's why we will work with the ACLU and others to fight it in court. Given the legislation has not yet been implemented, we'll continue to film there, while also supporting partners and artists who choose not to." But -- here's the but -- "should it ever come into effect, we'd rethink our entire investment in Georgia," the statement read.
Former Georgia gubernatorial candidate, Stacey Abrams, tweeted, "Georgia stands to lose Netflix and Disney. This means lost jobs for carpenters, hair dressers, food workers and 100s of small businesses grown right here. Billions in economic investment headed to states eager to welcome film + protect women."
Strict anti-abortion bills have been passed by Georgia, Mississippi, Ohio, Georgia, Kentucky, Missouri, and Louisiana this year. The bills are designed in part to provoke a court fight, potentially leading to a Supreme Court reexamination of abortion rights.

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First Published: May 31 2019 | 4:53 AM IST

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