Governor Urges Disney, Netflix and AMC to Film in Connecticut After Georgia Abortion Law Concerns

Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont is pushing for Disney, Netflix and AMC to come to the state after the media giants expressed reservations over strict abortion laws being considered in Georgia, Connecticut’s Hartford Courant reports.

Lamont and Lt. Governor Susan Bysiewicz penned letters to Disney CEO Bob Iger, Netflix Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos, and AMC president and CEO Josh Sapan urging the three companies to consider Connecticut’s growing media industry as the future site for their high-profile productions, which include The Walking Dead and Marvel Studios films.

“We applaud Disney’s recent condemnation of new legislation enacted in Georgia and other states to severely curb women’s reproductive rights,” reads the letter addressed to Iger.

“We wholeheartedly agree with and support your position, and know that this calls into question the viability of doing business in these states. We urge you to consider Connecticut."

Iger previously told Reuters the studio — which has already produced the top three films of 2019 thus far — would find it “very difficult” to continue filming in Georgia should the state put into effect a new law that would ban abortions if a fetal heartbeat can be detected.

“I think many people who work for us will not want to work there, and we will have to heed their wishes in that regard,” Iger said. “Right now, we are watching it very carefully.”

Marvel’s most recent box office heavy hitters — Black Panther, Captain Marvel, and both $2 billion-plus grossers Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame — filmed in Georgia.

“States that are adopting legislation that severely curb women’s reproductive rights are sending shockwaves across the country, including in the business community, and rightly so,” Lamont wrote in a statement.

“Here in Connecticut, I am particularly proud that support for protecting the ability of women to make informed decisions about their health and bodies is not only strong, but it is also bipartisan. We will continue to do everything in our power to protect women’s healthcare rights, and stand in solidarity with businesses who feel the same.”

Disney previously produced feature films Old Dogs, College Road Trip, and Confessions of a Shopaholic in Connecticut, which also serves as the headquarters for Disney-owned ESPN.

The letter also promises Netflix would find value in relocating to Connecticut: according to the letter, NBCUniversal, CBS Sports HQ, Blue Sky Studios, and ITV America have made the state home, leading to the creation of more than 2,000 jobs and $843 million in tax credits that galvanized $2.8 billion of expenditures in the state.

Should the anti-abortion law go into effect January 1, Sarandos vowed the streaming giant would work with the ACLU and other groups to take the battle to court.

“We have many women working on productions in Georgia, whose rights, along with millions of others, will be severely restricted by this law,” Sarandos said in a statement, promising Netflix would “rethink [its] entire investment in Georgia.”

AMC Networks has long made Georgia its home for flagship series The Walking Dead, now filming its tenth season in the state, but holds a similar position: in a statement released May 30, AMC said it would “reevaluate” its activity in Georgia should the “highly restrictive legislation” go into effect.

“Similar bills – some even more restrictive – have passed in multiple states and have been challenged,” the statement read. “This is likely to be a long and complicated fight and we are watching it all very closely.”

Former Walking Dead star Tom Payne said the network should consider leaving Georgia should the law go into effect, admitting AMC will have a “tough decision” to make.

The network in April officially greenlit its third Walking Dead series, a spinoff to commence production in Virginia this summer. The franchise’s first spinoff, Fear the Walking Dead, currently films in Texas.

For AMC, Lamont and Bysiewicz boasted of Connecticut’s “nationally competitive production tax incentives,” which they said are “ideal for companies like AMC that are producing television content.”

The state is already home to Showtime’s The Big C, TBS sitcom Are We There Yet?, numerous Hallmark and Lifetime television movies, and multiple talk and game shows such as Maury, The Jerry Springer Show, The People’s Court, and Who Wants to be a Millionaire.

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“I understand that some folks don’t like this new law. I’m fine with that,” Georgia Governor Brian Kemp said during Georgia’s Republican convention in May. “We’re elected to do what’s right — and standing up for precious life is always the right thing to do.”

He added: “We are the party of freedom and opportunity. We value and protect innocent life — even though that makes C-list celebrities squawk.”

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