Following Wednesday’s passage of the “fetal heartbeat” abortion ban—and with Gov. John Bel Edwards pledging to sign the bill—Louisiana’s film industry is bracing for potential backlash from studios.
No projects have pulled the plug on work in Louisiana, but recent passage of similar legislation in Georgia sparked a protest from filmmakers, casting doubt on filming future projects in the state. Others warned they will either boycott or are considering a boycott of Georgia, which, like Louisiana, has a lucrative movie tax credit program. Among them are Walt Disney Studios and Netflix, both of which have either recently filmed or are gearing up to film projects in Louisiana.
Netflix is now streaming the Bonnie-and-Clyde crime drama “Highwaymen,” filmed in New Orleans and starring Woody Harrelson and Kevin Costner. Meanwhile, Marvel’s “Gambit,” an “X-men” superhero movie starring Channing Tatum, began principal photography in New Orleans in March. The film is backed by 20th Century Fox, a subsidiary of Walt Disney Studios.
Netflix and Disney officials did not respond to requests for comment before this morning’s deadline. However, statewide industry officials remain optimistic, touting Louisiana’s assets as a filming location.
“Louisiana continues to be a great destination for feature film and television production, as well as live entertainment, digital and sound recording projects,” says Chris Stelly, executive director of Louisiana Entertainment. “We remain focused on attracting new entertainment jobs for Louisiana residents and supplier opportunities for Louisiana’s small businesses.”
Louisiana’s film industry has grown dramatically in recent years, largely because of the state’s generous 2002 tax incentives aimed at attracting film and television companies. It’s caused the state to be nicknamed “Hollywood South.”
Baton Rouge also reaps the economic benefits of Hollywood. Last year, Film Baton Rouge Executive Director Katie Pryor told Daily Report she estimated the industry had a $13.6 million economic impact on the city as of November—and that wasn’t including dollars gained from “Captain Marvel.”
Hiring is also underway for a new Paramount Television TV show—”Heaven of Hell”—filming at Celtic Studios and other locations in Baton Rouge.