Will Smith has joined the list of Hollywood figures who refuse to film in Georgia to protest the state’s new election law.
Smith and “Training Day” director Antoine Fuqua announced that they pulling their upcoming slavery movie “Emancipation” from the state.
“At this moment in time, the nation is coming to terms with its history and is attempting to eliminate vestiges of institutional racism to achieve true racial justice,” the two said in a joint statement. “We cannot in good conscience provide economic support to a government that enacts regressive voting laws that are designed to restrict voter access. The new Georgia voting laws are reminiscent of voting impediments that were passed at the end of Reconstruction to prevent many Americans from voting. Regrettably, we feel compelled to move our film production work from Georgia to another state.”
“Ford v. Ferrari” director James Mangold already announced he would not film in the state, and Star Wars actor Mark Hamill said he would support a boycott, but the Smith and Fuqua’s slavery drama is the first major production to announce it will leave the state.
“Emancipation” was set to begin filming this summer, with Smith playing the lead role of a real-life slave who escaped a southern plantation and joined the Union Army. Deadline is reporting that the movie will instead be filmed in Louisiana, where the real-life events took place.
Deadline is also reporting that the change will cost the production $15 million in lost tax rebates.
Georgia has become a major shooting location outside of Hollywood because it provides subsidies in the form of tax rebates to lure Hollywood production companies to film in the state. According to the Georgia Department of Economic Development’s “Explore Georgia” website, 391 television and film productions shot in Georgia in 2019. Recent productions include “Ozark,” “Stranger Things,” “The Walking Dead,” “Avengers: Endgame,” “Black Panther,” “Captain America: Civil War,” “Ant-Man,” and “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.”
Older movies filmed in Georgia include “Forrest Gump,” “Smokey and the Bandit,” “Fried Green Tomatoes,” “Deliverance,” and “My Cousin Vinny.”
Some are now expressing concern that companies boycotting the state will harm workers. According to the New York Times, director Tyler Perry, who owns a studio in Atlanta, has urged productions to not leave the state.
Major League Baseball already announced that it has pulled the All-Star Game and will hold it in Colorado instead. Ironically, that state has more restrictive voting rules.