Disney CEO Bob Iger says the studio would likely stop filming in Georgia if the new anti-abortion bill passes

By Ale Russian
May 30, 2019 10:16 AM
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Disney Chairman and CEO Bob Iger says he doesn’t see how the multi-billion dollar studio could continue filming in Georgia if the state’s new restrictive abortion law is upheld.

Iger, who took over as CEO of the Walt Disney Company in 2005, spoke about the effects of the new law in an interview with Reuters on Wednesday night. Iger was in Disneyland in Anaheim, California for the opening of the new Star Wars-themed area, Galaxy’s Edge, alongside stars Mark Hamill and Harrison Ford.

The CEO said the studio would rethink filming in Georgia if the new law, proposing to ban abortions if a fetal heartbeat can be detected, comes into effect.

“I think if it becomes law, it’ll be very difficult to produce there,” Iger said. “I rather doubt we will. I think many people who work for us will not want to work there and we’ll have to heed their wishes in that regard.”

He continued, “Right now we’re watching it very carefully, there’s some speculation it could be enacted sometime after the first of the year. I think it’s also likely to be challenged in the courts and that could delay it. We’re being careful and cautious about it, but if it becomes law, I don’t see how it’s practical for us to continue to shoot there.”

Disney shoots the majority of its films in the Atlanta area, including the highly-lucrative Marvel films like Avengers: Endgame, which is currently climbing towards Avatar’s record as the highest grossing film of all time.

Bob Iger
| Credit: Steven Ferdman/Patrick McMullan/Getty

While it’s not yet clear if it will hold up to legal challenges, the May 7 law has had many in Hollywood protesting the measure, which is set to take effect Jan. 1.

The day before Iger gave the interview, Netflix chief Ted Sarandos released a statement vowing to join the fight against the bill.

“We have many women working on productions in Georgia, whose rights, along with millions of others, will be severely restricted by this law,” he said in the statement, obtained by Variety. “It’s why we will work with the ACLU and others to fight it in court. Given the legislation has not yet been implemented, we’ll continue to film there, while also supporting partners and artists who choose not to. Should it ever come into effect, we’d rethink our entire investment in Georgia.”

Alabama, Ohio, Kentucky, Mississippi and Missouri also have similar heartbeat bills, but Georgia is the home to a lot of Hollywood productions.

The industry generated a reported $9.5 billion in “total economic impact” for the state in 2018, per the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.