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Netflix and Disney Threatening to Pull Out of Georgia Over the Abortion Law is Well Meaning But Hollow

By Dustin Rowles | Industry | May 30, 2019 |

By Dustin Rowles | Industry | May 30, 2019 |


I don’t want to be a buzzkill about this, but I’m totally going to be a buzzkill about this. You see, in the last couple of days, Disney and Netflix have made somewhat supportive statements, suggesting that if the Heartbeat Bill in Georgia goes into effect, they will rethink their productions in Georgia. That would be a huge deal, because Georgia brought in around $2.7 billion in 2017 from film and television productions, much of that from Disney and Netflix, which has filmed movies like Black Panther, Captain America: Civil War, and Avengers: Infinity War and television shows like Ozark there.

Disney’s statement comes from Bob Igor, who told Reuters, “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.”

Ted Sarandos from Netflix, meanwhile, stated, “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.”

And you know what? I get it. Studios like Disney, Netflix, and AMC have already invested a ton of money on current movies and television shows in Georgia — The Walking Dead has been there for a decade — and it would be disruptive to those properties, to the crews working on those properties, and to their families to pull existing productions out of the state immediately.

But if I’m Netflix, or Disney, or AMC or any other studio, I would say, “We will no longer factor Georgia into our future production plans, beginning today.”

Because here’s the deal: Netflix and Disney are hedging their bets. They’re making a very calculated decision, based on whether the law goes into effect in January 2020. But let me tell you something, folks. That law is not going to go into effect in January 2020. That law will not withstand legal scrutiny. Under Roe v. Wade, that law is unconstitutional.

The only way that law goes into effect is if it goes to the Supreme Court and the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade. If Disney and Netflix wait until that happens to put pressure on Georgia, well, it’s too f**king late, because if Roe is overturned, abortion is going to be illegal in Georgia, Texas, Arkansas, Missouri, Louisiana, and most of the rest of the South, and then Netflix and Disney will have to decide if they can produce their movies and television shows anywhere in the South.

If Netflix and Disney want to put pressure on Georgia, they should halt any future productions beginning now. They should do it because Georgia passed the law in the first place. They should do it because Georgia never should have had a governor who would sign that law because Brian Kemp stole the election from Stacey Abrams. They should do it to put pressure on Georgia’s legislators and voters to change the laws now if they want Hollywood to continue investing in their states in the future. Otherwise, Hollywood studios would be wise to move their production facilities to states with tax incentives that already support a woman’s right to choose, states like California, Colorado, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, and Washington (and not for nothing, but for six months out of the year, backwoods Maine doesn’t look that much different from Georgia, except we don’t have the sweltering heat).

So yes, it is nice that Netflix and Disney are threatening to pull their productions if the law goes into effect, but they should be doing something now to help ensure that it never goes into effect.

Dustin is the founder and co-owner of Pajiba. You may email him here, follow him on Twitter, or listen to his weekly TV podcast, Podjiba.

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