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'Black Panther' to film sequel in Georgia despite election law controversy

Ryan Coogler expressed while Georgia holds a special place in his heart, he is disappointment with the “ramifications for voters following the passage of SB 202.

ATLANTA — Ryan Coogler, the director behind "Fruitvale Station," "Black Panther" and the Creed film series has weighed in on the fallout over Georgia’s election law that has several high profile projects and directors deciding if they will keep their productions active in the state.

As the blockbuster-making director gears up for the highly anticipated sequel to Marvel’s 2018 film "Black Panther," Coogler penned an OP-ED for industry trade publications, the Hollywood Reporter and Shadow and Act, on why he will keep production in Atlanta.

In the essay, Coogler expressed while Georgia holds a special place in his heart, he remains disappointed with the “ramifications for voters following the passage of SB 202."

“The fight for full enfranchisement is fundamental to the African-American struggle in this country and to this country’s claim to functioning democracy. As an African-American, and as a citizen, I oppose all attempts, explicit and otherwise, to shrink the electorate and reduce access to the ballot. I say this as I return to Georgia, a state that holds a special place in my heart. I lived in Atlanta for eight months while filming my last movie. I have long looked forward to returning. But, when I was informed of the passage of SB202 in the state, and its ramifications for the state’s voters, I was profoundly disappointed,” he wrote.

RELATED: Film industry eyes Georgia election law

Coogler joins the ongoing list of high profile film makers making a statement to business in town following Georgia’s new election reform law as many are calling it a form of voter suppression.

The controversial law places new restrictions on voting by mail and greater legislative oversight of elections. The passage is facing several legal challenges, and has gotten the attention of the billion dollar TV and Film ecosystem in the peach state.

Many are calling to boycott production as threat to not support the law.

Credit: Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP
Michael B. Jordan, from left, Letitia Wright, Danai Gurira, Winston Duke, Zinzi Evans and Ryan Coogler arrive at the Oscars on Sunday, Feb. 24, 2019, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. (Photo by Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP)

Earlier this week, Will Smith and director Antoine Fuqua pulled production of their runaway slave drama “Emancipation” from Georgia over the state's recently enacted law restricting voting access.

Tyler Perry, who owns one of the largest film studios in the country, told 11Alive that the new law is “unconstitutional” and one that “harkens to the Jim Crow era.”

Hollywood's response to the Georgia law has been closely watched because the state is a major hub of film production and boasts generous tax incentives. Some filmmakers who have said they would boycott include “Ford v. Ferrari” director James Mangold. But major studios have so far been largely quiet. In 2019, a Georgia anti-abortion law (later declared unconstitutional) prompted studios to threaten to cease production in the state.

Credit: Associated Press
Ryan Coogler attends the 10th Annual AAFCA Awards on Feb. 6, 2019, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Phil McCarten/Invision/AP, File)

“While I wished to turn my concern into action, I could not do so without first being educated on the specifics of Georgia. Having now spoken with voting rights activists in the state, I have come to understand that many of the people employed by my film, including all the local vendors and businesses we engage, are the very same people who will bear the brunt of SB202. For those reasons, I will not be engaging in a boycott of Georgia. What I will be doing is using my voice to emphasize the effects of SB202, its shameful roots in Jim Crow, and doing all I can to support organizations fighting voter suppression here in the state,” Coogler wrote.