Apple‘s slavery drama Emancipation, from Will Smith and Antoine Fuqua, has pulled production of the film from Georgia in response to Georgia Gov. Kemp’s restrictive voting rights law banning water and food in voting lines among other legalized attempts to steal Black votes.
The law, a clear response to the high Black and minority Democratic turnout during the 2020 election, has been loudly criticized by politicians and filmmakers alike, specifically filmmakers that look to Georgia’s entertainment industry to create Hollywood films. Emancipation, however, is the first film to move from Georgia, taking out $15 million of reported income to the state. The film is now expected to film in Louisiana.
“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,” said Smith and Fuqua in a statement, as reported to IndieWire. “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,” Smith and Fuqua continued. “Regrettably, we feel compelled to move our film production work from Georgia to another state.”
The film was initially set to start filming in Georgia this June.
As previously reported, Smith will star in the film as Peter, known as “Whipped Peter,” a real-life enslaved person who escaped recapturing to join the Union Army. After a photo of his back was published in 1863, the number of scars he endured during slavery became a lightning rod for the abolitionist movement, showcasing to the country the horrors of the practice.