Major Media Companies Threaten to Pull Production in States With Anti-Abortion Laws

Multiple companies announce they will reassess plans to shoot in states like Georgia and Louisiana with restrictive abortion laws

Last Updated: May 31, 2019 @ 7:40 AM

Major media companies across Hollywood are pushing back against the anti-abortion “heartbeat bill” passed in Georgia, saying they will monitor the situation and reconsider filming in the state in the future should the law go into effect.

Disney, AMC, Netflix, WarnerMedia, NBCUniversal, Viacom, CBS and Showtime, Sony, MGM, STX Entertainment have all issued statements to that effect, amounting to a massive rejection of the law signed in early May. Several companies said they would do the same in other states where similar legislation has been adopted.

Earlier this month, Gov. Brian Kemp signed a bill to outlaw abortion in Georgia after the detection of a fetal heartbeat. The law is expected to take effect on Jan. 1, 2020, pending legal challenges. Legal challenges are expected.

Georgia makes billions of dollars from Hollywood productions in the state – $2.7 billion in 2018, according to the governors office.

Below are the statements issued by each of the companies thus far, and this post will be updated as more weigh in.

Lionsgate has so far not weighed in on the subject. Amazon’s show “The Power” from director Reed Morano was pulled from the state after Morano chose not to film there, but Amazon Studios has yet to issue a statement as they do not have films currently in production in the state.

CBS and Showtime

CBS and Showtime have now issued their statement regarding the Georgia “Heartbeat Bill,” joining the chorus of other studios and production companies, including Disney, WarnerMedia and Netflix, in saying they will reconsider filming in the state should the law take effect. However, CBS and Showtime says for now they will continue producing in the state until such time.

“Creative voices across our industry have expressed strong concern about the recently signed bill in Georgia. 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,” the company said in a statement. “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.”

Sony

In a statement from a Sony spokesperson, the company said they would continue to monitor the situation in Georgia and consider future production options.

“As the MPAA has noted, the outcome of the Georgia ‘Heartbeat Law,’ and similar proposed legislation in other states, will be determined through the legal process,” a Sony Pictures Entertainment spokesperson told TheWrap on Thursday. “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.”

WarnerMedia

On Thursday, WarnerMedia said it will “reconsider” filming in the state if the new law holds up.

“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 country and their leaders, we do respect due process,” WarnerMedia said in a statement on Thursday. “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.”

Currently, WarnerMedia is filming “The Conjuring 3” in the state, and James Gunn’s “The Suicide Squad” sequel is set to film in there as well. In TV, Jordan Peele and J.J. Abrams’ show “Lovecraft County” and the Jason Bateman-produced “The Outsider” for HBO are in production in Georgia.

NBCUniversal

NBCUniversal said that the law in Georgia — and any other “heartbeat bills” — will “strongly impact” its decision-making process on where they choose to film.

“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. If any of these laws are upheld, it would strongly impact our decision-making on where we produce our content in the future,” NBCUniversal said in a statement Thursday.

Disney

Walt Disney Company CEO Bob Iger said in an interview with Reuters on Wednesday that the company would find it “very difficult” to keep its productions in the state.

“I rather doubt we will [stay],” Iger said. “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.”

“I don’t see how it’s practical for us to continue to shoot there,” Iger continued.

Disney pulling its productions out of Georgia would potentially be a huge blow to the state. A number of Disney blockbusters, including Marvel Studios’ “Avengers: Endgame” and “Black Panther,” have recently filmed in Georgia, taking advantage of the state’s tax incentives.

Netflix

Earlier this week, Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos said the company — which also has significant production in Georgia — would work with those groups bringing legal challenges to the law and would “rethink” filming in the state should the law take effect.

“We have many women working on productions in Georgia, whose rights, along with millions of others, will be severely restricted by this law,” Sarandos said. “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. Should it ever come into effect, we’d rethink our entire investment in Georgia.”

A spokesman for Netflix declined to provide TheWrap with a tally of productions in Georgia. Series “Ozark,” “Insatiable” and the movie “Holidate” are currently in production in the state.

AMC

AMC, which films its hit series “The Walking Dead” in the Atlanta area, will “reevaluate” its activity in the state.

“If this highly restrictive legislation goes into effect, we will reevaluate our activity in Georgia,” AMC said in a statement. “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.”

AMC is currently in production on the tenth season of “Walking Dead” in the Atlanta area.

MGM

“Along with our producing partners, we continue to monitor what is happening in Georgia and will plan to assess any new projects should the law take effect,” the studio said in a statement.

Viacom

“We are closely monitoring the situation in Georgia and expect the legislation will be subject to significant legal challenges. Should the new law ever take effect, we will assess whether we will continue to produce projects in Georgia,” Viacom said in a statement to TheWrap.

The first season of the BET show “Bigger” is currently filming in the state, as is “Love and Hip Hop Atlanta” season 8 on VH1.

STX Entertainment

STX Entertainment CEO Robert Simonds issued a memo to STX staff saying that the company would be making a donation to the ACLU of Georgia and that the company would reassess filming future projects in the state should the law go into effect.

“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. While the bill has not yet come into effect, we do not believe it represents the will of the people in Georgia,” Simonds said in a memo obtained by TheWrap. “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.”

The thriller “Greenland,” from director Ric Roman Waugh and star Gerard Butler, was in pre-production in Atlanta earlier in the month.

“Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar”

A film from the “Bridesmaids” duo of Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolo, “Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar,” pulled out of filming in Georgia shortly after the bill’s signing.

Wiig and Mumolo are co-writing, and the film is produced by Jessica Elbaum of Gloria Sanchez Productions, with Lionsgate distributing.

Chernin Entertainment

Producers Peter Chernin and Jenno Topping of Chernin Entertainment said in a statement that their projects currently filming in Georgia, the Fox film trilogy “Fear Street” and the “P-Valley” TV series, will remain in the state, but they will be making a “significant donation to ACLU” in opposition to the bill.

“Our choice became pretty clear, we will stay in Georgia, stand shoulder to shoulder with the women of that state and the states under attack, and fight to win,” Chernin and Topping said in a joint statement. “In doing so will be making a significant donation to ACLU because whatever upside we have needs to be shared with the women everywhere who have the right as human beings to make medical decisions as sovereign individuals.”

The “Fear Street” films are teenage horror stories based on books by “Goosebumps” author R.L. Stine, and all three are directed by Leigh Janiak, a horror director behind the film “Honeymoon.” Both Topping and Chernin serve as producers on the project via Chernin Entertainment.

The series “P-Valley” is described as “an unflinching, unapologetic and gritty look at the lives of dancers working down in the Dirty Delta.” Set in an infamous “shake junt” called the Pink Pony, the series is a look at the southern club world, where pro-ballers and politicians continuously collide with the dreams of five brave women. Karena Evans directed the premiere episode and the playwright Katori Hall is the creator and showrunner. Topping and Chernin are executive producers on the series, and Dante Di Loreto also serves as an executive producer.

“Along Came the Devil 2”

The producers of the indie film “Along Came the Devil 2,” which completed filming in Georgia earlier this month, pledged to donate proceeds from their project to charity. Jason DeVan, the writer, director and producer of “Along Came the Devil 2,” and producer Heather DeVan said in a statement they would donate proceeds to ACLU of Georgia and Fair Fight Georgia.

“We stand behind the women of Georgia and their fundamental right to choose. As we come to a close to our production of ‘Along Came the Devil 2,’ we want to show our support by donating a portion of the proceeds from the film to ACLU of Georgia and Fair Fight Georgia,” the producers said. “Georgia is our home state. We have built a loving family here with our three kids along with our extended family – our hardworking and dedicated production crew. Together — we unite to fight this injustice.”

“Along Came the Devil 2” is a sequel to the 2018 horror film “Along Came the Devil” (a.k.a. “Tell Me Your Name”) that starred Jessica Barth, Matt Dallas and Bruce Davison.

“The Power”

Director Reed Morano of “The Handmaid’s Tale” decided not to film her upcoming Amazon series “The Power” in the state in response to the heartbeat bill.

“It felt wrong to us to go ahead and make our show and take money/tax credit from a state that is taking this stance on the abortion issue,” Morano wrote in an Instagram post. “We just couldn’t do it.”

“I’m sorry if the work moves away from where you live. But having this basic fundamental right for women is more important than anything in this moment in time,” Morano continued.