Imagine Entertainment to Continue Shooting ‘Hillbilly Elegy’ in Georgia, but Might Boycott for Future Filming

Ron Howard’s studio voices opposition to state’s anti-abortion “heartbeat bill”

Last Updated: May 16, 2019 @ 4:22 PM

Imagine Entertainment, which is set to start filming the Netflix movie “Hillbilly Elegy” in Georgia next month, says it will continue with production in the state but will shoot future productions elsewhere if Georgia’s recently passed “heartbeat” anti-abortion bill enters into law.

“After much thought and deliberation, we decided to continue with shooting ‘Hillbilly Elegy’ in Georgia next month,” read a statement to The Hollywood Reporter from Imagine founders Ron Howard and Brian Grazer.

“We felt we could not abandon the hundreds of women, and men, whose means of support depend on this production – including those who directly contribute on the film, and the businesses in the community that sustain the production. We see Governor Kemp’s bill as a direct attack on women’s rights, and we will be making a donation to the ACLU to support their battle against this oppressive legislation. Should this law go into effect in January, we will boycott the state as a production center.”

Last week, Kemp signed into law House Bill 481, banning abortions in the state after a fetal heartbeat has been detected — which could be as early as six weeks into a pregnancy — except when needed to save the life of the mother or for pregnancies resulting from rape or incest if the mother files a police report. The law would go into effect on Jan. 1, 2020.

The passage prompted backlash from several prominent people in Hollywood, including Alyssa Milano, who called for a much-publicized “sex strike” in response to the growing number of anti-abortion bills being passed.

Last week, four studios, including David Simon’s Blown Deadline Productions, said they would boycott shooting in Georgia out of protest against the new law. J.J. Abrams’ Bad Robot Productions and Jordan Peele’s Monkeypaw Productions issued a joint statement Friday in which they said they would still film their show “Lovecraft Country” in Georgia, but promised to donate their fees for producing the season to two Georgia-based organizations opposing HB 481.

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp also postponed a planned May 22 visit to Hollywood to promote Georgia’s film industry, with the visit now set to take place in the fall.

Since Georgia passed a bill allowing productions filmed there to receive up to 30% of their budget back in tax credits, the state has become a hotbed for the entertainment industry. Hit shows like “The Walking Dead” and “Ozark” have been filmed there, while Atlanta’s Pinewood Studios has become a major filming site for top blockbusters like Marvel Studios’ “Black Panther” and “Avengers: Endgame.”

“Film and television production in Georgia supports more than 92,000 jobs and brings significant economic benefits to communities and families,” Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) spokesman Chris Ortman said in a statement last week. “It is important to remember that similar legislation has been attempted in other states, and has either been enjoined by the courts or is currently being challenged. The outcome in Georgia will also be determined through the legal process. We will continue to monitor developments.”