Will Smith is looking for a new home for his next project. Emancipation, a Civil War drama produced by Smith and filmmaker Antoine Fuqua, will no longer film in Georgia due to a recently enacted voting restriction law. The movie is based on "Whipped Peter," a slave that emancipated himself from a plantation and joined the Union Army to fight in the Civil War.
“At this moment in time, the nation is coming to terms with its history and is attempting to eliminate vestiges of institutional racism to achieve true racial justice,” the filmmakers said in a join statement released on Monday. “We cannot in good conscience provide economic support to a government that enacts regressive voting laws that are designed to restrict voter access. The new Georgia voting laws are reminiscent of voting impediments that were passed at the end of Reconstruction to prevent many Americans from voting. Regrettably, we feel compelled to move our film production work from Georgia to another state.”
The movie — which will be distributed on AppleTV+ — was originally set to begin principal photography on June 21st, and now it's unclear if that will change. According to a report from Deadline, the movie is now expected to film in Louisiana.
Republican lawmakers in the Peach State passed the law earlier this month, overhauling the state's voting process. Amongst the changes, the bill outlaws the distribution of food and drink to voters waiting in line at polling locations across the state. Despite the changes, prominent political minds in the state against the bill — including former gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams — are still hoping Hollywood productions remain in the state to help funnel funds into the economy.
“Boycotts work best when the target of your boycott is responsive, and unfortunately we are not dealing with good actors here. The governor of Georgia is reveling in the potential of a boycott because it gives him someone to blame for his own actions,” Abrams said in a panel appearance last Friday. “Unlike previous boycotts that have worked in the South, the length of time it takes for a boycott to take effect would be devastating to an economy, devastating to people, devastating to the targets of this terrible, vicious legislation.”
Cover photo by Jerod Harris/Getty Images and Tommaso Boddi/Getty Images for Heart of Los Angeles