Over the past few weeks, we’ve seen reactions by Hollywood about the new voting laws that were recently passed in Georgia. These laws are a direct response to the recent election which saw the state vote for two Democratic senators and also for Joe Biden as the President of the United States. Basically, the state went Blue and the very Republican Governor and local legislature decided its best to start limiting how people could vote in future elections. As you might expect, whenever you pass laws that clearly intend to suppress the vote, people are going to be upset. But in the case of Will Smith and Antoine Fuqua, they decided to not only be upset but to also take action.
According to Deadline, Will Smith and Antoine Fuqua have decided to move the production of their upcoming Apple TV+ film, “Emancipation,” out of Georgia, where it was originally going to begin filming this summer. This decision is 100% motivated by the laws passed in the state that will make it more difficult for people to cast their votes in future elections.
In a statement, Fuqua and Smith said, “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. 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.”
As mentioned in the statement, though “Emancipation” doesn’t directly tell the story of voting rights or anything like that, the film is based on the story of Peter, a fugitive from slavery that has to make the difficult journey north out of Louisiana. And since these new Georgia laws have come under fire as a way to suppress the vote of Black people, in particular, it’s more than a little symbolic to have “Emancipation” leave the state.
It’s unclear how long the delay is going to be for “Emancipation.” The film was expected to begin production in June of this year, after already experiencing delays related to the pandemic. Now, moving the entire production out of Georgia is clearly going to add some more time to schedule. But when you have a film by director Antoine Fuqua (“Training Day”) and starring Will Smith, Apple isn’t going to rush things.