Will Smith’s new movie will no longer film in Georgia due to the passing of voter restriction laws.
The new law adds early voting access for most counties, adding an additional mandatory Saturday and codifying Sunday hours as optional, according to a report from Georgia Public Broadcasting. It also standardizes early voting hours from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. or as long as 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.; makes it mandatory to present a state-issued ID when requesting an absentee ballot; limits the number of drop boxes in the state, requiring them to be placed at early voting locations and only available while the precinct is open; and prohibits handing out food and water within 150 feet of the polling place or 25 feet of any voter in line, although poll workers are exempted.
Many critics of the law have said that it unfairly targets minority communities in the state, which flipped blue in the 2020 General Election.
Deadline reports that the move will cost the production somewhere in the $15 million range given that it’s new filming location, which the outlet reports will likely be Louisiana, doesn’t carry the same tax rebates that have made Georgia such a lucrative destination for people like Tyler Perry, who built his own studio in Atlanta.
However, unlike Smith, Perry previously cautioned the entertainment industry from pulling out of the state over the voting laws.
“Emancipation” is based on a script from William N. Collage that will star Smith as Peter, a fugitive from slavery who travels north, avoiding hunters and more, after escaping a Louisiana plantation. The movie is based on the real-life character “Whipped Peter,” an enslaved person who emancipated himself from the South and joined the Union Army. Photos taken of his back in 1863 showed extensive scarring he had from being whipped by his slave master that inspired many to speak out against slavery and fight to end it.
The film was originally scheduled to begin filming on June 21, 2021. However, that date may be subject to change given the location change.