The Walt Disney Co. and its subsidiary Marvel Entertainment threatened Wednesday to boycott film production in the state of Georgia if a pending so-called religious liberty bill becomes law, Variety reports. The move came just two days after the MPAA issued its own statement urging Gov. Nathan Deal to veto the bill rather than sign it. The bill, HB 757, makes it illegal to force clergy to perform same-sex wedding ceremonies. (It also, bizarrely, gives all individuals a legal right to choose “to attend or not attend” any wedding, which seems ill-considered.) More importantly, it would allow faith-based organizations—a category defined broadly enough to potentially include Chick-Fil-A and Hobby Lobby—to deny services and hire and fire employees based on sexual orientation.
Slate’s Mark Joseph Stern already reported on a company that’s planning to move to Nevada since the bill passed the state Legislature, but given Georgia’s boom in film production, studio boycotts would be an even bigger blow. A total of $132.5 million was spent on film production in Georgia in 2007, before its recent tax credits; by fiscal year 2015, that had risen to $1.7 billion. Disney and Marvel in particular spend a lot of money in Georgia: Guardians of the Galaxy 2 is filming there right now. And their statement is unequivocal; if the bill passes, their films leave the state:
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.
Later in the day, AMC and Viacom also joined in condemning the bill, though neither company went so far as to promise a boycott. AMC shoots The Walking Dead and Halt and Catch Fire in Georgia; Viacom, parent company to Paramount Pictures, has shot a variety of films in Georgia over the past few years. It’s an open question whether Gov. Deal—who vetoed an earlier version of this bill—will sign or veto HB 757; he has until May 3 to decide.