“The Walking Dead might stagger away from Georgia. The NFL might sack Atlanta for a future Super Bowl. And Disney and Marvel Studios might fly their next superhero movie off to film in another state.
North Carolina better watch out, too: Dirty Dancingmight dance off to more friendly environs.
What’s going on? “The Hollywood of the South” is under siege .
A growing list of entertainment companies and big-league sports are speaking out about the Peach State because the legislature just passed, and the governor might sign, a new law that supporters say promotes “religious liberty” and opponents say makes it legal to discriminate against gay people in the name of religion.
Don’t sign it, Governor Nathan Deal, urged Disney/ABC and its subsidiary Marvel Studios; Time Warner and its subsidiaries HBO, Warner and Turner Broadcasting(based in Atlanta); CBS; Comcast NBCUniversal; Viacom and its subsidiaries (Paramount, Comedy Central, Nickelodeon, VH1, Spike and MTV); The Weinstein Company; 21st Century Fox; the AMC Networks; Sony Pictures; Discovery Communications; the NFL and the Atlanta Falcons; the NCAA, which awarded the 2020 Final Four to Atlanta; and Atlanta-based Coca-Cola.
Sign it and there will be consequences, said some of the objecting companies.
“Disney and Marvel are inclusive companies, and although we have had great experiences filming in Georgia, we will plan to take our business elsewhere should any legislation allowing discriminatory practices be signed into state law,” Disney said in a statement.
Among other films, Disney is already shooting Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2, and plans to shoot the two-part Avengers:Infinity War at Pinewood Studios near Fayetteville, Ga.
The company that Walt Disney built as a bastion of conservatism and anti-union fervor, has changed along with much of America, where being gay or transgender is no longer a firing offense and same-sex marriage is a constitutional right. Still, pockets of resistance remain, especially in the Bible Belt. Scores of religious and conservative groups support the bill, which allows faith-based organizations to refuse to provide services based on religious beliefs, and want Deal to sign it into law.
AMC Networks, whose popular The Walking Dead zombie celebration series in mostly filmed in Georgia, urged Deal to veto the bill.
“As a company, AMC Networks believes that discrimination of any kind is reprehensible. We applaud Governor Deal’s leadership in resisting a previous version of this divisive legislation and urge him to reject the current version as well,” the cable company said in a statement.
But it might be the NFL’s implied threat that really hit home.
“NFL policies emphasize tolerance and inclusiveness, and prohibit discrimination based on age, gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, or any other improper standard. Whether the laws and regulations of a state and local community are consistent with these policies would be one of many factors NFL owners may use to evaluate potential Super Bowl host sites,” the league said in a statement to the Atlanta Journal Constitution when it asked last week…”