Superstar actor Will Smith and director Antoine Fuqua’s newest film is the first high-profile Hollywood project to pull up stakes and leave Georgia in protest over Georgia’s controversial new voting law.

Smith and Fuqua’s movie “Emancipation,” a Civil War-era drama about slavery being underwritten by Apple Studios, was set to begin filming in Georgia in June. But the Oscar-nominated actor and his director, who are also producing the project, decided instead to leave the state and its generous film tax breaks behind, for Louisiana. The duo issued a statement explaining their reasons.

“We cannot in good conscience provide economic support to a government that enacts regressive voting laws that are designed to restrict voter access. The new Georgia voting laws are reminiscent of voting impediments that were passed at the end of Reconstruction to prevent many Americans from voting. Regrettably, we feel compelled to move our film production work from Georgia to another state.”

Georgia SB 202 has generated massive outrage from activists who call it an outright voter-suppression bill. A number of corporate leaders in the state have condemned the law, and Major League Baseball even pulled the 2021 All-Star Game from Atlanta as a result. However, famously-liberal Hollywood had remained mostly tight-lipped on the subject because Georgia, because of its landscape, facilities and large tax breaks, has become Hollywood South in recent years.

“Emancipation” is a unique project with its own unique situation to consider. Smith will be portraying the real-life figure known as “Whipped Peter,” a slave who freed himself and joined the Union Army. A photograph of his back showing horrific whip marks that was first printed in 1863 is credited with helping to turn Northerners against slavery. The plantation from which he freed himself was actually in Louisiana, so making the decision to switch filming to that state, while likely costing the production at least $15 million, makes a lot of sense. Also, the optics of shooting a movie with this subject matter in a state that just passed laws that many see as being aimed to hurt black voters, could have undermined the movie before it even shot a frame of film.

Whether or not Smith and Fuqua’s decision will lead to more studios taking their projects elsewhere remains to be seen. According to the industry site Deadline, the producers behind the film had been in talk with film officials in Georgia and political leaders like Stacey Abrams before ultimately making the call. Abrams and others, including Tyler Perry, whose studio has a huge footprint in Atlanta, have been urging filmmakers to not abandon Georgia, saying that doing so would only hurt the state’s middle-class workforce.