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What's At Stake For Georgia If Hollywood Boycotts Over A New Abortion Law


The state of Georgia has become one of the movie capitals of the world. These days it produces more feature films per year than Hollywood. But some of the biggest media companies like Netflix, Disney and Warner Media said this week that they might consider leaving Georgia because of its new restrictions on abortion. Bryn Sandberg of The Hollywood Reporter has been covering this situation, and she joins us now. Welcome to ALL THINGS CONSIDERED.

BRYN SANDBERG: Thank you for having me.

CORNISH: First of all, to start, how did Georgia become competitive in this industry, right? How did we reach a point where Georgia could be competing with the New York's and LA's of the world to lure production companies?

SANDBERG: It's definitely been a massive industry for Georgia in the last 10 years because about a decade ago is when they instituted these new, very generous, lucrative tax incentives which gives productions up to 30% back depending on how much they spend and whether they're willing to put a Georgia peach logo in their credits and that sort of thing. But it's really significant money back for these major studios in Hollywood.

CORNISH: And what has it gotten back?

SANDBERG: There was a record 455 films and television productions that were shot in Georgia in the last fiscal year. And they represented a $2.7, you know, billion in direct spending, which they estimate brings in $9.5 billion in total economic impact. So these numbers are really huge. And they have been a huge destination for feature films, and not just any sort of feature films, expensive blockbusters, the biggest of those being Marvel's "Avengers" movies, which shot at Pinewood Studios in Atlanta, which is a big production facility.

CORNISH: As we mentioned, studios and media companies have sent some warning signals. How likely, though, is an actual boycott?

SANDBERG: These laws have sort of been spreading. And production people here in Hollywood are sort of taking a wait-and-see approach. And this abortion ban isn't supposed to take effect until January of 2020. So we have this sort of in-between time where a lot of studios and producers and executives are trying to figure out what the best course of action is, and do they keep projects there in the meantime? Should it be overturned before it's enacted, then Hollywood doesn't really have to worry about pulling out their productions.

CORNISH: That's the business side of it, but people make a lot of the politics of Hollywood. Is there a sense that people actually support the idea of a boycott?

SANDBERG: I think that there is a bit of a political divide. Depending on who you talk to, you'll get different perspectives and different strategies on this issue. You look at what J.J. Abrams and Jordan Peele did with their upcoming HBO show "Lovecraft County (ph)" that they're about to shoot in Georgia. They said they were going to continue on with production in the state and that they were going to donate 100% of their episodic fees to the ACLU of Georgia and Fair Fight Georgia, which are two organizations working to oppose the law and overturn it in court.

So their perspective was that, you know, they talked to a lot of people on the ground in Georgia and felt that it would only be hurting the local crew and the actors and local production companies and all these people who really need these jobs if they were to just relocate at the 11th hour.

So if you look at an Amazon show called "The Power" that Reed Morano is making and ended up deciding to look elsewhere after this legislation was passed. So you're seeing a lot of different strategies, and there is definitely discussion in town here about whether a boycott is the most effective one.

CORNISH: That's Bryn Sandberg of The Hollywood Reporter. Thank you for speaking with us.

SANDBERG: Thank you so much for having me. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.