Black Panther II will still film in Georgia despite the state’s new, restrictive voting law.
In an op-ed published by Shadow and Act, the film’s director Ryan Coogler says that the Marvel film will move forward with its plans to shoot in the Peach State this summer. The law has drawn widespread criticism for the way it enacts strict new ID requirements for absentee ballots, curtails the use of drop boxes and makes it a crime to give water and food to those waiting in line to vote. President Joe Biden has called it “Jim Crow in the 21st century.”
In his piece, Coogler condemned the law, which was signed by Georgia’s Republican Governor Brian Kemp at the end of March. “As an African-American, and as a citizen, I oppose all attempts, explicit and otherwise, to shrink the electorate and reduce access to the ballot,” he wrote. Coogler learned of the bill, named SB202, just as he was about to head back to Georgia to shoot Black Panther II. “When I was informed of the passage of SB202 in the state, and its ramifications for the state’s voters, I was profoundly disappointed.”
The director explained that while he wanted to turn his disappointment into action, presumably by boycotting the state as some others have called for, he realized by speaking to local voting rights activists in Georgia that pulling business from the state would likely only hurt the very same people who will be most hurt by the new law. It’s a point that’s been made by multiple leaders in the state, including Stacey Abrams and Senator Jon Osoff, as well as several members of the local film community. “For those reasons, I will not be engaging in a boycott of Georgia,” Coogler writes. “Our film is staying in Georgia.”
Instead, he plans to use his influence to support organizations in the state that are working the hardest to fight voter suppression, making a donation to Stacey Abrams’ Fair Fight Action. “I have made a personal commitment to raise awareness about ways to help overturn this harmful bill, and continue to get educated on this matter from people on the ground,” he continues. “I will encourage everyone working with me to tap in with the local community directly affected by Senate Bill 202 and to leverage their influence and resources to aid in the fight for this particular and essential pillar of democracy.”
Earlier this week, Antoine Fuqua and Will Smith made a different decision, opting to relocate their upcoming slave drama Emancipation due to the voter law. “We cannot in good conscience provide economic support to a government that enacts regressive voting laws that are designed to restrict voter access,” said Smith and Fuqua. “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.”
A handful of Hollywood’s top studios and guilds have denounced the law in statements but none are known to have pulled business from the state. Tyler Perry, who runs a studio out of Atlanta, criticized the bill shortly after it was passed but stopped short of recommending a boycott. “I’m resting my hope in the DOJ taking a hard look at this unconstitutional voter suppression law that harkens to the Jim Crow era,” he said. “As some consider boycotting, please remember that we did turn Georgia blue and there is a gubernatorial race on the horizon — that’s the beauty of a democracy.” Other major companies with major productions in the state, including Netflix and Black Panther II producer Disney, have yet to comment on the law.