Hollywood, by and large, has remained pretty silent over the increasing swath of anti-choice legislation that has swept the country over the past few months. Georgia, home to some of the most generous tax cuts for film and television productions in the country, signed their ‘heartbeat bill’ into law, and seven other states, including Alabama and Ohio, have or are following in their footsteps.
Given how crucial Georgia and its tax incentives are to major productions like Marvel, The Walking Dead and Stranger Things, it has been sad but not all that surprising to see Hollywood remain silent on the topic. They don’t want to lose that money, clearly, and are probably waiting for groups like the ACLU to take these states to court and have the bills deemed unconstitutional. Then again, that’s basically what these Republican politicians want, given that the Supreme Court is far more in their favour than it is supporters of Roe V. Wade.
Some big celebrities have spoken out against the bill, with films and stars pulling out of Georgia or promising to never work there unless this bill is gotten rid of. Others, like Jordan Peele and Ron Howard, have pledged to donate their fees from projects set to begin production in the state to charities like Fair Fight Georgia and the ACLU. People speaking out matters, but it hasn’t escaped anyone’s attention that the big players have kept their mouths shut. Disney and Marvel Studios, we’re looking at you.
A recent report in Variety noted how ‘not one major studio would comment on the ongoing issue when approached’ by them, ‘including the film and TV divisions at The Walt Disney Co., WarnerMedia, Sony Pictures Entertainment, NBCUniversal, Viacom, Fox and Amazon Studios.’
The only one who did respond? Netflix. Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos said in a statement to the publication:
‘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. Should it ever come into effect, we’d rethink our entire investment in Georgia.’
That’s a very big deal for a company that does a lot of business in the state. And this sort of protest has been shown to work in the past. Variety notes how Disney threatened to pull out of Georgia if a 2016 ‘religious freedom’ bill that would have made it easier to discriminate against LGBTQ+ people were signed into law, and the Governor of the time vetoed it. Last year, state lawmakers proposed legislation that would allow adoption agencies the right to refuse to place kids with gay couples, and that bill didn’t reach the Governor’s desk after similar protests.
So Disney and Marvel, what are you going to do now?