If Nathan Deal signs the ‘religious liberty’ bill, will Hollywood flee?

Norman Reedus tries to find a way back to Alexandria on "Always Accountable." CREDIT: AMC

Would AMC pull “The Walking Dead” out of Georgia over the “religious liberty” bill? Maybe not. But it might be more difficult to get new projects to come here.  CREDIT: AMC

By RODNEY HO/ rho@ajc.com, originally filed Monday, March 21, 2016

If Gov. Nathan Deal signs the “religious liberty” bill, the burgeoning TV and film business in the state could be adversely affected.

“I believe it will have a direct effect on our industry among many industries,” said Ric Reitz, a local actor who helped design the tax credits in 2008. “People making decisions on where to shoot will have enormous pressure placed on them to take their business elsewhere. And there are plenty of other options.”

Indeed, the Human Rights Campaign is already calling for Hollywood to boycott Georgia.

Reitz plans to release a video statement later this week directed at Deal calling for a veto.

Local groups associated with the entertainment business are quietly lobbying the governor behind the scenes but are choosing to not rattle their sabers publicly for now. Very few folks reached wanted to go on the record, not wanting to upset Deal with open opposition.

Deal has been strongly supportive of the tax credits and the growth of the film and TV business here over the past eight years. The state legislature has not shown any recent predilection toward diluting them in any way. As a result, Georgia has become the third-biggest state in the country for movies and television production behind only California and New York, edging past New Orleans.

While it’s doubtful there would be an immediate pull out by the likes of Marvel and Sony if Deal signs the bill, it could make production companies think twice about going to Georgia down the road and hinder growth.

The two sides debate the potential impact of the bill.

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