Actor Will Smith and Director Antoine Fuqua announced Monday they are yanking the production of their slave drama “Emancipation” from Georgia over its “regressive voting laws that are designed to restrict voter access.”
“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,” Mr. Smith and Mr. Fuqua said 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,” they said.
“Emancipation” was scheduled to begin filming in Georgia on June 21, with Mr. Smith portraying the true story of Whipped Peter, a slave who emancipated himself from a Southern plantation and joined the Union Army, according to a press release.
Deadline reported the film is likely to move to Louisiana, which will cost the production an additional $15 million because of the loss in tax incentives that have turned Georgia into a major production hub.
The move out of Georgia marks the first major production to pull out of the state since Republican Gov. Brian Kemp signed the voting reform bill on March 31, which expands early voting access for some voters, adds an ID requirement and shortens the time period for absentee voting, limits the use of drop boxes, and prohibits political activists and candidates from trying to influence in-line electors by plying them with “food and drink” as it happened in November.
The law has sparked a wave of backlash from Democrats who have compared it to the Jim Crow era.
On April 2, Major League Baseball announced it was moving its annual All-Star Game out of Georgia over the new law.
“Major League Baseball fundamentally supports voting rights for all Americans and opposes restrictions to the ballot box,” Robert D. Manfred Jr., the league’s commissioner, said in a statement.
• Rowan Scarborough contributed to this report.