The actor Will Smith has canceled the shooting of his next film “Emancipation” in the US state of Georgia in protest against the electoral reform there. Smith and director Antoine Fuqua explained this in a joint statement on Instagram. “We cannot, in good conscience, economically support a government that enacts regressive electoral laws aimed at restricting voter access. Unfortunately, we are being forced to relocate our production from Georgia to another state.”
Republican Governor Brian Kemp’s fraud change came after Donald Trump’s unsubstantiated allegations of fraud in the presidential election last November. His Democratic opponent Joe Biden had narrowly won the southern state, which was decisive for his election as incumbent US president.
The electoral reform in Georgia, among other things, restricts the opening times of the boxes for ballot papers placed in the street. In addition, parliament is to be given more powers to regulate the electoral process, and identity checks for postal votes are to be tightened. It will also be classified as a crime in future to offer food and drink to voters standing in line. Even speaking to those waiting is forbidden.
Hollywood protested against an abortion law in Georgia two years ago
President Biden called the reform “terrible” last week. It is directed “against American values” and an “attack on the constitution”. Critics complain that black voters in particular are disadvantaged by the new rules. For example, the number of polling stations in neighborhoods with a predominantly black population is to be reduced.
That Will Smith made his drama “Emancipation” that loud Variety was already sold to Apple in advance for a good 120 million dollars and would like to shoot elsewhere, is also due to the content of the film. It tells the true story of the slave Peter who fled north from a plantation in Louisiana in the 1860s. Smith does not want to implement this story in a southern state, which, in his opinion, has not learned anything from the story. Filming was scheduled to start in June. It is still unclear where they will take place now.
After large corporations like Coca-Cola, which are based in Georgia, criticized the law, Hollywood is now following suit. That could have serious economic consequences for the state. Georgia grants high tax rebates for film productions and is therefore a popular location for shooting Marvel films and series such as “The Walking Dead”.
There was already a protest in 2019 when the conservative state wanted to tighten its abortion law. It should make abortions illegal as soon as a heartbeat can be detected in the embryo, usually six weeks after conception. Back then, big film companies like Netflix, Disney, Sony, Warner and Universal threatened to withdraw their productions. The law was eventually declared unconstitutional; Hollywood continued to shoot for the most part.
How it will turn out this time is still unclear. Will Smith is already receiving support from director James Mangold (“Walk The Line”) and Luke Skywalker actor Mark Hamill. You also call to stop shooting in Georgia for the time being.