Will Smith has had a successful career as an actor and producer, and is showing no signs of slowing down. After Aladdin became his highest-grossing movie, Smith turned his focus on a variety of other projects. This includes Antoine Fuqua's anticipated drama Emancipation, where he'll also serve as both actor and producer. And in the latest turn of events, the movie is officially pulling production out of the state of Georgia. What's more, Smith and Fuqua made a statement about this decision.
For years Georgia (specifically the Atlanta area) has been prime real estate for film and TV sets. There are some tax breaks that come with shooting in the state, and all film projects could use a little padding in their budget. But some filmmakers have also been threatening to move their set locations over state legislation. Will Smith and Antoine Fuqua released a statement about why Emancipation is finding a new home, which reads:
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 that were 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.
And just like that, film history had been made. This marks the first major project that has left Georgia for a political reason, and it's taking millions of dollars away from the state as a result. While this is a conversation that has happened for a few years, Will Smith and Antoine Fuqua actually bit the bullet, and will be filming Emancipation somewhere else.
As the statement from THR reads, the decision making behind Emancipation was informed by legislation currently happening in the state of Georgia. The new laws are specifically focused on voting methods, and reportedly restrict the use of drop boxes, forbid handing out food and water to voters waiting on line, and more. And as conversations surround these new actions, Will Smith's Emancipation is using money to express its disapproval of the new voting standards.
This isn't the first time that Hollywood figures have threatened to pull projects out of the state of Georgia, specifically in hopes of making political impact. Some began advocating for this way of protest after the state passed laws making it more difficult for women to access abortion services. Will Smith's Emancipation is the first to follow through, and it should be interesting to see if other projects follow suit. Because while pulling out of the state is a financial blow to Georgia, it will also cause producers to lose out on the aforementioned tax breaks.
It's currently unclear where Emancipation will be moving its set, although this shake-up is sure to keep all eyes on the project. In the meantime, check out our 2021 release list to plan your next movie experiences.