Antoine Fuqua’s Emancipation, a highly anticipated slave drama starring Will Smith, is exiting Georgia over its controversial proposed new Voter Law. In a statement to Deadline, Smith, and Fuqua stated:
“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.”
Emancipation will likely shoot in Louisiana instead. In the film, which is being produced by Apple, Smith plays a runaway slave evading slave catchers on a dangerous journey north. Based on a true story, the character that he plays, Peter, eventually joined the Union Army, while an infamous photo of his bare, whipped back, became a worldwide symbol illustrating the barbarity of slavery.
As stated by Deadline, “Emancipation won’t likely presage a Georgia exodus. This is a special case, one where the optics of shooting in Georgia would be difficult given the subject matter. Carrying the familiar Peach symbol on this particular Apple film could undermine the power of the movie’s subject matter.”
Pinewood Atlanta studios have been the home to many huge projects, including Avengers: Infinity War and Endgame. Some have called for a Georgia boycott, including Mark Hamill and director James Mangold, who’s promised not to shoot any films there. Others, including Tyler Perry and Martin Luther King’s daughter Bernice King, have discouraged a potential boycott, with King tweeting:
“Please stop the #BoycottGeorgia talk. That would hurt middle-class workers and people grappling with poverty. And it would increase the harm of both racism and classism.”
Emancipation is scheduled to start shooting on June 21st.