Will Smith's 'Emancipation' film withdraws production in Georgia due to new voting rights law
Apple Studios reportedly spent $120M+ to obtain the distribution rights to the film
Will Smith and Antoine Fuqua won’t be filming Apple’s "Emancipation" flick in Georgia due to the state’s new voting rights law, which some critics have blasted as voter suppression.
The actor and film director-producer signed their names in a public statement on behalf of their production companies, Westbrook Inc. and Fuqua Films, and shared their reasoning on social media platforms such as Twitter and Instagram.
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"Fuqua Films and Westbrook Inc. withdraw film production of ‘Emancipation’ from state of Georgia as a result of new voting restrictions. 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," the statement reads. "We cannot in good conscience provide economic support to a government that enacts regressive voting laws that are designed to restrict voter access."
The statement goes on to equate the voting bill (SB 202) that Gov. Brian signed into law on March 25 to "voting impediments that were passed at the end Reconstruction to prevent many Americans from voting."
Smith and Fuqua concluded their joint statement that they "feel compelled" to move the film’s production to another state.
While Smith and Fuqua do not agree with the revised voting law, the 98-page bill has added provisions that require voters to provide ID verification if they pursue absentee voting. Photo ID was already a requirement for in-person voting in the state.
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Democrats, activists and celebrities have lambasted the bill as racially-motivated disenfranchisement. Meanwhile, supporters of the bill argue that it is a means to shield elections from fraud and has nothing to do with race.
Smith and Fuqua’s departure from Georgia comes days after the Major League Baseball association announced it would move its 2021 All-Star Game out of Atlanta due to the bill. Other major corporations have condemned Georgia’s new voting laws, including The Coca-Cola Company, JPMorgan Chase, Delta Air Lines and more.
Representatives at Apple did not immediately respond to FOX Business’ request for comment.
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According to Deadline, Apple Studios spent more than $120 million in July to secure distribution rights to "Emancipation."
The film is reportedly about a fugitive slave’s "harrowing journey north from Louisiana," according to a synopsis shared in Smith and Fuqua’s Instagram caption. Smith is set to play the leading role while Fuqua will direct the motion picture.
Georgia’s film industry has grown substantially in the last few decades. In 2018, movies and TV shoes filmed in the Peach State generated $9.5 billion, according to the Georgia Department of Economic Development.
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Moreover, this is not the first time Hollywood insiders have pulled a project out of the state to protest legislation.
Amazon Studios made headlines in May 2019 for ditching the state of Georgia for its drama series "The Power" following Kemp’s signing of the "heartbeat bill" (HB 481), which aimed to ban abortions in the state once a heartbeat is detected.
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Several actors and big names in production threated to cut ties with the state entirely over the controversial bill.