Disney CEO said it would be ‘very difficult’ to stay in Georgia if anti-abortion law goes into effect

Originally posted Wednesday, May 29, 2019 by RODNEY HO/rho@ajc.com on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog

The Walt Disney Co. chief executive Bob Iger told Reuters that it would be “very difficult” for the company to shoot in Georgia if the recently signed anti-abortion law is implemented January 1, 2020.

"I rather doubt we will," Iger told Reuters before the dedication of a new "Star Wars" section at Disneyland. "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."

Disney has shot several pricey Marvel movies at Pinewood Studios in Fayetteville including some of the biggest blockbusters in recent history such as “Avengers Endgame” and “Black Panther.” The last two “Avengers” films collectively cost more than $700 million. 

The law would restrict abortions as soon as a “fetal heartbeat” is detected, which  is around the sixth week. Similar bills have passed in several states in recent months. Some laws have already been stopped by the courts. 

Disney is the second major production studio that said it may pull out next year unless the law is successfully challenged in federal court. Netflix - which creates shows such as “Ozark” and “Stranger Things” in Georgia - Tuesday said it would have to “rethink” its investment in the state if the bill goes into effect. 

My colleague Greg Bluestein has reached out to Gov. Brian Kemp, who signed the bill earlier this month, for comment. 

Currently, 32 active TV and film productions are shooting in Atlanta. Netflix has four of them. Disney has one.

ABC does not have any shows in its current schedule that have committed to Georgia. Disney-owned FX has “Atlanta” and FXX has “Archer.” 

Kemp’s former Democratic rival for governor Stacey Abrams has called for studios, actors and producers to stay in the state to fight the battle and not leave. But she did respond to the Disney news quickly, noting that if Netflix and Disney leave, it could lead to a major loss in jobs to “states eager to welcome film + protect women.”

Georgia has one of the most generous tax credits in the world, helping draw all the major studios. About 455 productions qualified for the credit in FY2018. 

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About the Author

Rodney Ho
Rodney Ho
Rodney Ho covers radio and television for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.