Due to controversial voting restrictions in the state of Georgia, Will Smith and Antoine Fuqua are pulling production of their slavery drama Emancipation out of the state. The film is now looking to shoot in Louisiana, which, according to Deadline, cost production “somewhere in the $15 million range” because of the loss of Georgia tax rebates.
“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,” said Fuqua and Smith in a joint statement. “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.”
The film follows Smith as Peter, a fugitive of slavery journeying north from Louisiana. Donning the nickname “Whipped Peter,” he emancipates himself from a southern plantation and joins the Union Army.
Georgia’s Republican Gov. Brian Kemp’s signed bill from March 25 banns the distribution of food and water on voting lines, limits the number of ballot drop boxers, and enables other restrictive voting measures. James Mangold and Mark Hamill were among some of those who called for film productions to leave the state.
This exodus from Georgia is not unique to the film industry. Major League Baseball recently announced that they would move the All-Star Game out of the state because of the bill.