A political showdown is taking place in the moviemaking capital of the United States. No, not Los Angeles—Georgia. Thanks to hefty tax incentives, the Peach State has become a haven for film and television projects, serving as the base of operations for The Walking Dead and a number of Marvel Studios films, among others. But the marriage between Disney/Marvel and Georgia is now in jeopardy, as the Mouse House and Marvel Studios are threatening to leave the state once and for all if a controversial religious liberty bill is passed.
The Georgia Legislature recently passed a bill intended to shield opponents of the Supreme Court’s landmark same-sex marriage ruling, which would protect religious officials from having to perform same-sex marriage ceremonies and allow faith-based organizations to deny services of employment to those who violate their “sincerely held religious belief.” The bill now goes to the desk of Governor Nathan Deal, but The Walt Disney Co. and Marvel Studios released a statement today saying that if the bill becomes law, they’ll pack their bags:
“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.”
The Walking Dead network AMC has also come out against the bill, but wouldn’t commit to a full boycott. The legislation has already incited backlash among those in the state who warn not only of its societal implications, but also economic constraints similar to those plagued by Indiana last summer after it passed similar legislation. Atlanta is currently serving as the production base for Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2 and was also where Marvel shot Ant-Man, with plans to shoot the massive two-part Avengers: Infinity War saga there as well. Clearly Marvel and Disney bring huge business to the state, and it’s nice to see the companies putting their respective foots down against this kind of offensive legislation.
Governor Deal has not indicated whether he will sign the bill or veto, but this strong statement from Marvel and Disney should hopefully go a long way towards signaling just how big of a blunder this bill would be.