Will Smith's slavery movie Emancipation will not be filming in Georgia. This is due to what Smith has called the US state's new "regressive voting laws."
Fuqua Films and Will Smith's media company Westbrook Inc. are behind the film, which was sold to Apple Studios for 120 million.
Will Smith's Statement
Will Smith and director Antoine Fuqua told Deadline they felt "compelled" to act. The pair explained in a joint statement:
"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."
"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 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."
The New Rules
According to the new voting rules, there's shorten in the duration of absentee voting, the requirement of absentee voters to produce identification, limited usage of drop boxes. It is also a crime to hand out free food or water to voters standing in line.
This new law directly negatively impacts the state's economy since more top-grossing movies are shot in Georgia "than anywhere else in the world."
The announcement is another blow to Republican Gov. Brian Kemp and his camp. The critics see the GOP-controlled state legislature's decision to pass new regulations as a way to maintain voter suppression.
The aim, as per critics, is to reduce the turnout of minorities, especially Black people.
The director James Mangold, who will make the new Indiana Jones movie, recently declared that he would not make any new movies in Georgia because of this new law:
"Georgia has been using cash to steal movie jobs from other states that allow people to vote."
"I don't want to play there."
Star Wars actor Mark Hamill endorsed Mangold's tweet with hashtag #NoMoreFilminginGeorgia.
The future of Emancipation
Emancipation was scheduled to start filming on June 21. The film is described as a thriller about slavery.
Will Smith will play Peter, a fugitive from slavery escaping Louisiana, hoping to travel north to freedom. Fuqua will direct it while the from comes from William N. Collage.
There is no final decision on the filming location.
Georgia is facing backlash from other significant movies and franchises, like Marvel and Tyler Perry productions.