Walt Disney Co. announced today that the media giant would boycott the state of Georgia if Governor Nathan Deal signs a discriminatory bill into law that would allow officials to deny services or employment to same-sex couples or LGBTQ individuals.
In recent years, Georgia state has become a hub for film and television production. Popular films and shows are filmed in the state, and Walt Disney Co. and its subsidiary Marvel are just two recent additions to the growing chorus of Hollywood production companies who vow to take their business elsewhere if the religious liberty bill is signed into law by Governor Nathan Deal.
“Disney and Marvel are inclusive companies, and although we have had great experiences filming in Georgia, we will plan to take our business elsewhere should any legislation allowing discriminatory practices be signed into state law,” said a Disney spokesman today, urging Georgia legislators not to go through with the controversial law.
— Margaret Stohl (@mstohl) March 23, 2016
Disney and Marvel both routinely shoot films in Georgia, which offers generous tax incentives for film production companies. Guardians of the Galaxy 2 is currently being shot at Pinewood studios just outside Atlanta, and Captain America: Civil War was shot in Georgia just last year. Other companies like AMC film their hit shows in and around Atlanta. The Walking Dead is famously shot in Georgia and takes place in the southern state.
“We are confident that Governor Deal will not allow a discriminatory bill to become law in Georgia,” said Vans Stevenson of the MPAA.
Marvel and Disney have big interests in Georgia, and the move would be a major PR coup for the companies, which have become something of a leader for inclusive and diverse roles in their films and TV series. However, they’re not always as diverse and inclusive as the public would like, as evidenced by the recent backlash over the casting decisions for Marvel superhero Iron Fist.
— Collider News (@ColliderNews) March 23, 2016
The Georgia law sits on Governor Nathan Deal’s desk. It has passed the Georgia State Senate and House, and it’s up to the governor whether or not he’ll sign it into law. In the past, Variety reports, Deal has stated that he wouldn’t sign any law that would be discriminatory in nature. But the religious liberty bill passed the state legislature after being negotiated into a compromise by both sides. Governor Deal has yet to respond to threats from the MPAA, and Marvel, and Disney and announce a decision to sign or to veto the law.
Disney and Marvel had big plans for Georgia. Marvel alone has over a dozen films slated for the next few years, including several TV outings, many of which could be filmed in Georgia. The MPAA’s previous pressure on the governor’s office may have had an effect, but Disney and Marvel are bringing out the big guns. They’re threatening the state’s tax revenue and the state’s economy by stating firmly that Marvel and Disney will not do business in Georgia if a discriminatory anti-gay legislation is signed into law.
Governor Nathan Deal has until May 3 to sign the bill into law or to veto it outright, reports Comic Book Resources. The bill was intensely criticized by local businesses in Georgia, who feared reprisal from big investors like Marvel and Disney who represent major money not just for the state but for local business owners who provide labor, talent, and services for media giants like Marvel and Disney.
According to Variety, the state of Georgia has become the No. 3 state for film production, behind California and New York, and contributes nearly $2 billion in revenue to the state economy.
[Photo by Jesse Grant/Getty Images for Disney]