ATLANTA — Gov. Brian Kemp sought to calm Georgia’s film industry Wednesday in the face of growing Hollywood opposition to the state’s newly signed abortion bill, which goes into effect next year. Kemp and First Lady Marty Kemp toured Pinewood Studios, met with students at the Georgia Film Academy, and spoke with film industry leaders in Fayetteville, Georgia. Pinewood Atlanta Studios is the second largest studio production facility in North America.
“The television and film industry employs thousands of hardworking Georgians and generates economic opportunity in every corner of our great state,” said Kemp. “I truly appreciate the investments made by industry leaders – like those here at Pinewood and the Georgia Film Academy – and their commitment to growing their operations and output in the Peach State.,>
“I will continue to advance policies that empower job creators and encourage investment in our state. We will focus on workforce development so hardworking Georgians are ready to meet the demands of a 21st century economy.”
Georgia is one of the world’s top locations for film and TV production, mostly due to tax breaks and other policies that Kemp’s predecessor, Nathan Deal, endorsed. However, two upcoming productions in Georgia are the state’s first entertainment casualties as a result of the so-called Heartbeat Bill. Amazon’s series “The Power” is the first TV production to leave Georgia after Gov. Brian Kemp signed the Heartbeat Bill. Emmy-winning director Reed Morano is pulling the Amazon series from shooting in Georgia. Also, actress Kristin Wiig and her collaborator, Annie Mumolo, have canceled shoots in Georgia for their upcoming film “Barb and Star Go to Vista del Mar.”
Until recently, the Hollywood uproar to the bill has been limited to mostly lesser known stars and small production companies, but over the weekend one of Hollywood’s biggest names entered the controversy. Oscar-winning director Ron Howard said he would boycott Georgia if the bill goes into effect next year.
The bill, authored by a suburban Atlanta Republican lawmaker, outlaws most abortions after about six weeks, which is when a fetal heartbeat is usually first detected. It would allow abortions in cases where the mother’s life or health is in danger, or in cases of medical emergency. It also says an unborn child at any stage of development in the womb would be included in state population-based counts.
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In 2017, Georgia was the location for 15 of the year’s 100 top-grossing films — good for second place behind Canada, where 20 such movies were produced. A year earlier, Georgia had topped the list with 17 of the year’s most popular features, beating out the United Kingdom, Canada and California.
In 2005, Georgia’s legislature passed what would become known as the Georgia Entertainment Industry Investment Act. Under the bill, which went into effect in 2008, Georgia offered one of the nation’s most aggressive tax-incentive programs to production companies working in the state.
As a result, TV and film studios were able to shave off significant sums from their overhead doing business in Georgia, as opposed to other states. Productions of $500,000 or more that take full advantage by including promotion for the state — usually in the form of the Georgia, USA peach logo – can save 30 percent on their taxes.
In the wake of the new law, Georgia’s entertainment-industry infrastructure began to grow as studios, sound stages, post-production facilities and the like began springing up to support the companies arriving to take advantage of the tax break.
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