Georgia’s film incentive program is one of the most aggressive in the nation, and it’s paid off big-time for the Peach State. Since passing the package in 2008, the state has become a hub for the film industry. The MPAA credits the program with the creation of 78,000 direct and indirect jobs, and in 2012 alone resulted in more than 330 movies, TV shows, commercials, and music videos–worth $3.1 billion in economic activity, according to the alt-weekly Creative Loafing.
It’s only continued. Captain America: Civil War–one of the biggest movies of 2016–was shot there, and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is currently in production. Marvel, like most every other studio, has been hot to take advantage of the state’s incentive program. But the company announced today that they’re ready to bounce if HB 757, the state’s “religious liberty” bill, gets signed into law. In a statement, a Marvel spokesperson said, “Disney and Marvel are inclusive companies, and although we have had great experiences filming in Georgia, we will plan to take our business elsewhere should any legislation allowing discriminatory practices be signed into state law.”
Marvel’s the first studio to weigh in on the law–other productions that take place in the state, from AMC’s The Walking Dead to CW’s The Vampire Diaries, have yet to issue statements–but they’re not the first major brand to get involved. The NFL issued a statement last week that, while less strongly worded than Marvel’s and Disney’s, put the idea of an Atlanta Super Bowl–which was a virtual lock for the city’s new stadium–on the chopping block, as well.
Of course, the loss of production business might not be strictly on the shoulders of HB 757, in the end. The film incentive program in Georgia is controversial–the Atlanta Journal-Constitution speculated that it may be in the crosshairs this year, and the state’s governor gave an impassioned plea to preserve it. If the program were to end, it probably wouldn’t matter what happened with HB 757–most production that’s taken to Atlanta will probably uproot to states who can match the incentives. But even with the aggressive program in place (which grants up to a 30% rebate in the form of tax credits for productions that spend more than $500,000 in the state) Marvel’s making its position known–and they may not be the last.