Will Smith film withdraws Georgia over voting limitations

Will Smith and director Antoine Fuqua have pulled production of their runaway slave drama “Emancipation” from Georgia over the state’s recently instituted law limiting voting access.

The film is the biggest and most high profile Hollywood production to leave the state since Georgia’s Republican-controlled state Legislature passed a law that presented stiffer citizen voter identification necessities for non-attendant balloting, restricted drop boxes and gave the State Election Board new powers to intercede in county election offices and to eliminate and supplant local election officials.

Rivals have said the law is intended to decrease the effect of minority voters.

In a joint statement, Smith and Fuqua — who are the two producers on the project — said they felt constrained to move the production out of Georgia.

“We cannot in good conscience provide economic support to a government that enacts regressive voting laws that are designed to restrict voter access,” Smith and Fuqua said. “The new Georgia voting laws are reminiscent of voting impediments that were passed at the end of Reconstruction to prevent many Americans from voting.”

“Emancipation” had been scheduled to start shooting in June. Apple Studios obtained the film a year ago in a deal allegedly worth $130 million. In light of a true story, the film stars Smith as a slave who escapes a Louisiana estate and joins the Union Army.

Hollywood’s reaction to the Georgia law has been firmly watched on the grounds that the state is a significant hub of film production and boasts generous tax incentives.

A few movie producers have said they would boycott, including “Ford v. Ferrari” director James Mangold. Yet, significant studios have so far been to a great extent calm. In 2019, a Georgia anti-abortion law (later proclaimed unconstitutional) incited studios to take steps to stop production in the state.