Apr 12, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Will Smith's "Emancipation" becomes first major film production to pull out of Georgia

Photo of Brian Kemp on the left and Will Smith on the right
Left: Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R). Right: Actor and producer Will Smith. Photos: Elijah Nouvelage/Bloomberg and Paras Griffin via Getty Images

Actor Will Smith and director Antoine Fuqua said Monday they are moving their upcoming film production, "Emancipation," out of Georgia in response to the state's new voting restrictions.

Why it matters: The passage of the law has spurred outrage across the U.S., with activists calling it a move to disenfranchise Black voters. Backed by Apple Studios, the slavery-era film is the first major production to leave the state due to the voting law, the New York Times reports.

What they're saying: "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," Smith and Fuqua 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," they added. "Regrettably, we feel compelled to move our film production work from Georgia to another state."

The big picture: Georgia has been central to major studios like Marvel and Netflix in the last few years, offering generous tax incentives to Hollywood productions.

  • It's unclear if the move will prompt other film productions to leave the state.
  • A coalition of major corporate players, many of them based in Georgia, have expressed concerns about the new law.

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