Will Smith’s new movie pulls out of Georgia: Read their statement why
Will Smith is making headlines this week as news of his new movie is being covered by publications across the board this morning. The buzz is all about Smith’s new film Emancipation, a slave narrative that has halted its production in Georgia.
The new movie not only stars Will Smith but also comes from director Antoine Fuqua who both seem to be in agreement with the recent decision to change the film’s shooting location.
The Hollywood Reporter divulged today Will Smith & Antoine Fuqua’s new movie will pull its production from Georgia. The film, titled Emancipation, follows the story of Whipped Peter, played by Will Smith, an enslaved person who emancipated himself during the 1860s during the U.S. Civil War.
Whipped Peter was a real person and is the subject of perhaps the most famous stomach-churning image of a brutally whipped enslaved person in the U.S. that’s ever existed. If you’re thinking of an image you’ve seen repeatedly in history books & museums, there’s a ninety-nine percent chance it’s the image of Whipped Peter in an image entitled “The Scourged Back”.
New voting law
The subject matter of the new movie starring Will Smith reportedly has everything to do with the recent decision to pull Emancipation’s production from Georgia. The change in production landscape comes in response to a new voting law in Georgia which many see as targeting the black community with voter suppression.
The new voting law was signed by Republican governor Brian Kemp after being passed by a Republican-majority legislature, and people have drawn comparisons between it and the laws of the Jim Crow era United States.
The new voting law is said to derail the use of dropboxes, enforce strict ID requirements for absentee ballots, and even makes giving water & food to those waiting in line to vote a crime. With the new voting law in place, critics of the law argue that those who have fewer resources, many of which said critics further say are in such a position as a result of institutionalized racism, would be penalized & discouraged from voting.
In a joint statement by Smith & director Antoine Fuqua, it was announced Emancipation wouldn’t continue its production in Georgia, where they stated the new movie would be giving money to a state with a new law “reminiscent of voting impediments that were passed at the end of Reconstruction to prevent many Americans from voting”.
Smith & Fuqua pointed out in their statement the U.S. is “coming to terms with its history and is attempting to eliminate vestiges of institutional racism to achieve true racial justice,” in a seeming underscore of the perfectly wrong timing of Georgia’s new law, and tragic irony of the law being passed during the filming of a story meant to unpack an important time of racial injustice leading us to today.
Filming in Georgia
NBC News reported in its Emancipation story, Georgia has become a major center for filming by production companies for the last several years. The state has been known to dole out better tax breaks for production companies, leading supernova productions like Marvel movies to choose the state as a shooting location.
However, the news of Emancipation moving has people wondering if other Hollywood stars & film crews will follow suit, or at least make a statement regarding the new suppressive voting law in Georgia. While some production companies have yet to respond, stars like Star Wars’s Mark Hamill have said they’ll boycott production in Georgia, and massive companies like AT&T & ViacomCBS have criticized the voting restriction.
It’s hard to say if other productions will follow the lead of Will Smith & Antoine Fuqua and pull production from Georgia, despite its generous incentives, amid Georgia’s new restrictive voting law. For now, we know Emancipation will take its production elsewhere with the stated intent of respecting the subject matter it will address in the new movie.