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North Carolina’s controversial legislation is impacting Hollywood’s decision to film in the state.
Netflix has opted to film its upcoming North Carolina-set series OBX, a coming-of-age drama set in a fictional town in the state’s Outer Banks, in South Carolina instead due to remnants of North Carolina’s anti-LGBTQ House Bill 2. Best known as “the bathroom bill,” the law requires transgender people use the public restrooms that correspond to the sex on their birth certificate. The legislation first drew criticism when it was enacted in 2016, with some studios even pulling their projects out of the state.
Despite the fact that North Carolina repealed a section of the law in 2017 following a year of backlash, it didn’t completely overturn HB2. One problematic piece of the replacement bill, per insiders, is a clause that forbids municipalities from enacting nondiscrimination ordinances for any group not included in state law — including LGBTQ people — until 2020. Sources suggest the law wasn’t the only reason the streamer opted to not film in North Carolina, though it was a key factor. “This is an economic development project and therefore we don’t discuss pending projects,” Guy Gaster, director of North Carolina’s film office, told The Hollywood Reporter.
Show creator Jonas Pate, who grew up in North Carolina and moved back to Wilmington last year, had been pushing Netflix to shoot in his home state. “This tiny law is costing this town 70 good, clean, pension-paying jobs and also sending a message to those people who can bring these jobs and more that North Carolina still doesn’t get it,” Pate told local newspaper The Fayetteville Observer, which broke the news. According to the site, Netflix is projected to spend roughly $60 million on the 10-episode series, which follows a group of four teenagers as a hurricane cuts all power and communication to the Outer Banks islands. OBX is expected to start filming this spring.
Human Rights Campaign president Chad Griffin praised Netflix for their decision. “Good on @netflix for taking seriously the impact of this disgraceful law on their LGBTQ talent & employees,” he tweeted. “It’s been nearly 3 years since NC passed #HB2, and it’s long past time for this hateful bill to be fully repealed.”
Of course, it’s hardly the first time a controversial law has threatened a state’s film business. Nearly a year ago, Georgia risked alienating Hollywood when its Senate passed a bill that would have made it legal for adoption agencies to not work with same-sex couples. The Peach State, home to major blockbusters (Marvel Studios’ Black Panther, Avengers: Infinity War) and hit TV series (AMC’s The Walking Dead, Netflix’s Stranger Things), dodged a bullet when an amended version of the bill that killed the restrictions against same-sex couple adoptions was signed into law in March.
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