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Hollywood productions are big business. Not only do they means lots of money for the studios that produce them, but they can also mean financial benefits for the places where the movies are made. The state of Georgia has very beneficial tax incentives in place that have lured numerous productions to the Peach State. However, there are other factors that also go into these location decisions and one of them is a deal breaker for Disney. The Mouse House is threatening to stop making movies in Georgia if the governor signs a bill that is currently sitting on his desk.
Last week, the Georgia legislature passed House Bill 757, The Free Exercise Protection Act. The bill would give Georgia’s faith-based organizations the right to refuse service to those who "violate such faith-based organization’s sincerely held religious belief." According to Deadline, Disney and Marvel view this as legalized discrimination and have publicly stated that if Georgia Governor Nathan Deal signs the bill, they will take their business elsewhere.
It’s not an empty threat either. Disney has been using Pinewood Studios outside of Atlanta to make movies very recently. A large portion of both Captain America: Civil War and Ant-Man were filmed there, and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is filming there right now. There’s no indication of whether Marvel would pull Guardians out immediately if the bill is signed, or simply wrap up their current work there as scheduled and just not come back. It would certainly be expensive to make a drastic change at the last minute like that, but that doesn’t mean Disney wouldn’t do it anyway.
While Disney is the first Hollywood studio to come out and say they will stop doing business in Georgia if the law passes, it’s entirely possible that others may follow suit. Several other movies and television shows are also filmed in Georgia in order to take advantage of the tax situation. But even if they don’t, and Disney stands alone, this is Disney we’re talking about. The amount of money that they bring with them could very easily sway somebody trying to decide what is in the long-term best interest of their state. The tax revenue and jobs that would be lost would be significant and would certainly impact the state’s bottom line. With the frequency that Marvel has been using the location recently, and the number of movies they already have planned, this could be years worth of business Georgia was expecting that they could now lose.
The governor has until May 3 to make a decision to sign the bill or not. He has not made any public statement regarding how he might decide, but we'll continue to update you as details become public.