Entertainment behemoth Walt Disney Company, which as a business startup had a focus on child-oriented product, now has a CEO who has taken an anti-child stance on a significant societal issue.
In a Reuters interview that took place prior to the dedication of Disneyland’s newest land, “Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge,” Disney head Bob Iger was asked whether or not the company would continue to use the state of Georgia as a location for the filming of its projects.
The reason the question was posed to Iger is because Georgia recently passed a state law that bans abortion procedures after a fetal heartbeat can be detected (approximately six weeks of gestation). Iger was letting the world know which side Disney is on in the culture war that continues to surround abortion.
The CEO stated that it would be “very difficult” for Disney to continue to engage in its on-location production activities in Georgia if the new law were to take effect.
Georgia is a preferred locale for many of Hollywood’s film and television projects, due to a 20 percent base transferable tax credit. The Peach State brought in $2.7 billion in revenue from such projects in 2018.
“Well, I think if it becomes law, it’ll be very difficult to produce there,” Iger told Reuters. “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.”
Iger continued, “I think it’s also likely to be challenged in the courts and that could delay it. …But if it becomes law, I don’t see how it’s practical for us to continue to shoot there.”
A sizable amount of The Mouse House’s production has been based in Georgia locales, including that of its blockbusters “Black Panther” and “Avengers: Endgame.”
A number of aptly termed “heartbeat bills” have already been passed, and/or are in the process of moving forward in states that include Louisiana, Kentucky, Mississippi, and Ohio, using legitimate legislative processes that express the will of the people and allow citizens to exercise their right of self-governance in each respective state.
By choosing to weigh in on one of society’s most controversial concerns, Iger may have inflicted harm on his company’s well-honed brand by slighting a significant segment of Disney’s customer base.
The company recently acquired 21st Century Fox’s entertainment assets and is planning to launch its new Disney+ streaming service this year, which will reportedly be loaded with family friendly content. Disney also plans to capitalize on its collection of beloved characters from its “Star Wars,” Marvel, and Pixar catalogs.
Interestingly, at the same time Disney’s CEO is talking about pulling out of Georgia, the company he heads is operating a theme park and distributing movies in China, a country that is known for banning parts of the web, depriving people of their liberties, and engaging in human rights abuses.
Disney recently filmed a live-action adaptation of its 1998 animated film “Mulan” in China. Marvel, a Disney subsidiary, has actually been criticized for caving to censors in China by changing a character’s ethnicity from Tibetan to Celtic.
Iger recently discussed with the Saudi crown prince the prospect of having an amusement park in Saudi Arabia, a place where women are forced to endure second class status.
The comments of Iger followed those of Netflix’s chief content officer Ted Sarandos, who not only said that Netflix’s production would be exiting Georgia, but also indicated that the streaming company would support legal efforts to overturn the democratically passed heartbeat law.
Netflix filmed its hit series “Stranger Things” in Georgia as well as the upcoming sci-fi show “Raising Dion.”
Sarandos told Variety, “We have many women working on productions in Georgia, whose rights, along with millions of others, will be severely restricted by this law… Should it ever come into effect, we’d rethink our entire investment in Georgia.”
However, Netflix does not seem particularly concerned with women’s rights, or even human rights for that matter. The company pulled an episode of “Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj,” which criticized Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. This was purportedly done so that it would be unable to be viewed by Saudis following a “take down request” from the Saudi Arabian government. Netflix additionally shot “Marco Polo” in Malaysia, a place in which Sharia law is imposed.
Shortly after Disney and Netflix weighed in on Georgia, other Hollywood companies saw fit to jump on the virtue-signaling bandwagon as well, including WarnerMedia, NBCUniversal, AMC, CBS, Viacom, and Sony, indicating that each may also withdraw from using Georgia production sites.
The Georgia law also prompted a group of Hollywood celebrities to speak out, which included Kristen Wiig, Jason Bateman, and Alyssa Milano. Directors J.J. Abrams, Jordan Peele, and Ron Howard for the moment are filming there but have plans to donate money to the American Civil Liberties Union and other groups opposing Georgia’s duly passed legislation.
Not all left-wingers are united on ways in which to handle the Georgia law, though. Former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams is seeking to avoid a boycott over concerns that the citizens of Georgia could be hurt. And more than 3,300 women have signed a “We Work Here” Change.org petition, initiated by The Women of Film in Georgia, expressing opposition to any boycott of the state.