Netflix to 'rethink' investment in Georgia if abortion law takes effect

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Netflix Inc said on Tuesday it would “rethink” its film and television production investment in Georgia if a new law severely restricting abortion in the state is implemented, but the streaming service will continue to work there for now.

FILE PHOTO: 25th Screen Actors Guild Awards – Photo Room – Los Angeles, California, U.S., January 27, 2019 - Jason Bateman poses backstage with his Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Drama Series award for the Netflix series "Ozark". REUTERS/Monica Almeida

Netflix, which films TV shows like crime drama “Ozark” and supernatural thriller “Stranger Things” in the U.S. state, said it would work with groups fighting the Georgia law through the U.S. courts.

The company was the first major Hollywood producer to publicly comment on calls by some for an industry boycott of Georgia. The industry is responsible for more than 92,000 jobs in Georgia, according to the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), and some 455 film and TV shows were shot in the state in 2018, according to then-Governor Nathan Deal.

Netflix’s chief content officer, Ted Sarandos, said Netflix had many women working on productions in Georgia and their rights would be restricted by the new law.

“It’s why we will work with the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) and others to fight it in court. Given the legislation has not yet been implemented, we’ll continue to film there - while also supporting partners and artists who choose not to. Should it ever come into effect, we’d rethink our entire investment in Georgia,” Sarandos said in a statement.

Georgia is one of eight states to pass anti-abortion legislation this year seeking to induce the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 landmark case that established a woman’s right to terminate her pregnancy.. The Georgia law comes into effect on Jan. 1.

Calls by some in Hollywood for a boycott of Georgia have so far failed to gain widespread support, with most studios and platforms remaining silent. That contrasts with a boycott of North Carolina over its transgender bathroom law that was supported by businesses, sports leagues and celebrities like Bruce Springsteen and led to the repeal of the law in 2017.

A number of producers and actors have said they will donate money to local groups fighting the abortion law, rather than boycott and cause people in Georgia to lose work.

However the makers of an upcoming comedy starring Kristen Wiig decided last week not to shoot in Georgia. While work on “Ozark” season three began in Georgia earlier this month, star and executive producer Jason Bateman said that if the abortion bill became law he would not work in Georgia.

According to the Georgia film office website on Monday, 38 movies or TV shows are currently in production in the state. Past productions include the TV series “The Walking Dead” and scenes from the 2018 superhero movie “Black Panther.”

Reporting by Jill Serjeant; editing by Steve Orlofsky and Cynthia Osterman