In early May, the state of Georgia passed a restrictive "heartbeat" abortion bill that would effectively bans abortion after the detection of a fetal heartbeat. Many in Hollywood have spoken out against the bill, which was signed by Governor Brian Kemp, but is not yet law, by threatening to boycott the state where many movie and TV shows are filmed. On May 28, Netflix spoke out against Georgia's anti-abortion bill, becoming the first major studio to do so.
Georgia's new anti-abortion bill would prevent pregnant women from getting an abortion after six weeks, when most women don't know they're pregnant yet. And, because the state has become a popular place for Hollywood productions, some are calling into question how involved studios should be with the state. In a new story focused on how Hollywood is addressing the anti-abortion bills being introduced and debated in states like Georgia, Alabama, Missouri and Ohio, published on May 28,Variety reported that "not one major studio would comment" when asked by the publication how they were handling the restrictive bills. This included the film and TV divisions at The Walt Disney Co., WarnerMedia, Sony Pictures Entertainment, NBCUniversal, Viacom, Fox, and Amazon Studios, according to Variety.
The only studio that did respond to Variety's request for comment on Georgia's abortion bill, which would go into effect in January 2020, was Netflix. “We have many women working on productions in Georgia, whose rights, along with millions of others, will be severely restricted by this law,” Ted Sarandos, Netflix’s chief content officer, told Variety in a statement. “It’s why we will work with the ACLU and others to fight it in court." No additional details were provided by Netflix as to how they plan to contribute to the ACLU's legal fight against the ban.
As of now, Netflix has no plans to boycott the state where Stranger Things films, but Sarandos told Variety that those plans could change. "Given the legislation has not yet been implemented, we’ll continue to film there," Sarandos stated, "while also supporting partners and artists who choose not to. Should it ever come into effect, we’d rethink our entire investment in Georgia.”
Others in Hollywood are not waiting to see if these bills do become law, they're taking action now. It was announced on May 21 that Kristen Wiig's new movie with Bridesmaids co-writer Annie Mumolo will no longer be filmed in the state. A handful of production companies have publicly stated they would boycott Georgia because of the bill, with executives from Killer Films, Blown Deadline Productions, and Duplass Brothers Productions speaking out. And, The Handmaid's Tale director Reed Morano was the first to announce that her new Amazon Series, The Power, would no longer be filming in Georgia. "We had no problem stopping the entire process instantly," Morano told Time last week. "There is no way we would ever bring our money to that state by shooting there."
But others in Hollywood, like Spider-Man producer Heidi Lindelof, feel a complete boycott of the state could end up hurting the wrong people in this fight. “Saying, ‘We’re going to yank production out of your state if you don’t reverse,’ I’m not sure [Georgia Governor Brian] Kemp cares about that," Lindelof told Variety. "It feels as though he’s willing to risk jobs and millions of dollars to be the hero that gets his law to go to the Supreme Court."
It's why others in Hollywood have chosen to continue working in the state while supporting the fight against these abortion bans in other ways. Both Jordan Peele and J.J. Abrams' production companies have promised "100% of [their] respective episodic fees” for their upcoming joint TV show Lovecraft Country will be donated to the ACLU of Georgia and Stacey Abrams' nonprofit Fair Fight Georgia, according to IndieWire.
Despite it being too late for them to change filming locations, Peele and Abrams said in a statement, per IndieWire, that they are "standing shoulder to shoulder with the women of Georgia. Governor Kemp’s ‘Fetal Heartbeat’ Abortion Law is an unconstitutional effort to further restrict women and their health providers from making private medical decisions on their terms. Make no mistake, this is an attack aimed squarely and purposely at women."
As Peele and Abrams said, it's an "attack" that many in Hollywood are meeting head-on in different ways, understanding that this is a complicated issue with no one answer. It's also a conversation many in Hollywood, including the studios, may not be able to ignore moving forward.