Photographer: Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg

Disney Will Stop Filming in Georgia if Religious Bill Signed

Updated on
  • Company opposes any bill allowing `discriminatory practices'
  • Film, TV producers spent $1.7 billion in Georgia last year

Walt Disney Co. said it will stop making movies in Georgia if the state enacts a law that critics say legalizes discrimination, particularly of gay people.

“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,” Disney said in an e-mail Wednesday.

Disney joins tech executives from Intel Corp. and Yelp Inc. in calling for a veto of the bill, which would allow business owners in the state to invoke their religious beliefs to deny employment, education and charitable services -- essentially giving legal protection to people who object to same-sex marriage.

Georgia, with attractive tax incentives for businesses, has been one of the winners in the global land grab for filmed entertainment. Most recently, Disney’s Marvel Studios filmed “Captain America: Civil War” in the state, according to IMDB.com. The last installment in that series cost $170 million to make, according to Box Office Mojo.

In all, film and TV producers spent a record $1.7 billion in Georgia in the fiscal year that ended June 30, generating a $6 billion impact, the Georgia Economic Development Department said at its Film Day event in February. The entertainment industry has created 79,000 jobs in the state with an average annual salary of $84,000, it said.

TV shows such as AMC Networks’ “The Walking Dead,” CBS Corp.’s “The Vampire Diaries” and Viacom Inc.’s “Being Mary Jane” were filmed in Georgia. Sony Pictures Entertainment’s “Miracles from Heaven” and Warner Bros.’ “The Nice Guys” and “The Accountant” were among the films made in the state.

In a statement Wednesday, AMC Networks said discrimination of any kind is “reprehensible,” and urged Nathan Deal, Georgia’s Republican governor, to reject the bill.

Beyond the film industry, other large companies including Microsoft Corp. and Atlanta-based Coca-Cola Co. and Delta Air Lines Inc. have also urged the state to abandon the bill. Salesforce.com said it will cut investment in Georgia, including a tech conference held in Atlanta, if the bill isn’t vetoed.

Deal has until May 3 to sign or veto House Bill 757.

— With assistance by Anousha Sakoui, Gerry Smith, and Christopher Palmeri

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