Will Smith’s new slave thriller Emancipation is moving its production from the state of Georgia following the passing of controversial new voting laws.
This year, new laws were set out in the state which mean all voters will require ID in order to vote, a move that many believe will disproportionately harm Black and ethnic minority voters.
In a joint statement announcing the move away from Georgia – the first major film to boycott the state following the new laws passing – Smith and director Antoine Fuqua 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.”
They added: “Regrettably, we feel compelled to move our film production work from Georgia to another state.”
Emancipation is set to follow the story of former slave ‘Whipped Peter’ Gordon, who became notorious after photos of him with scars on his back from being whipped and tortured became world famous.
The film is still set to keep to its original production start date of June 21, and looks to be moving to a location in Louisiana, the real-life setting for Gordon’s enslavement.
A number of high-profile figures in Georgia have shared their opposition to the boycott, with Hollywood productions having a huge base in Georgia and bringing in more than $10billion (£7.2bn) in revenue for the state each year.
Voting rights activist Stacey Abrams said: “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 revelling in the potential of a boycott because it gives him someone to blame for his own actions.”
Martin Luther King’s daughter Bernice also urged Hollywood to “please stop” the boycott, saying such action would “hurt middle class workers and people grappling with poverty. And it would increase the harm of both racism and classism.”