“Unplanned” finally is coming to Canada.
The film, based on the true story of Planned Parenthood director-turned pro-life advocate Abby Johnson, received overwhelming support in American theaters this spring. But the filmmakers initially struggled to find a distributor in Canada.
Their persistence paid off, because the film is slated to be shown in at least 24 theaters across the country starting July 12, The Canadian Press reports.
“When UNPLANNED comes to Canadian theaters, this movie will make abortion unpopular,” producers/directors Cary Solomon and Chuck Konzelman said in a statement. “This is the movie that no one wants you to see, and it took a petition, a boycott and a brave independent distributor who would boldly bring this movie to the people of Canada.”
According to the distribution company Cinedicom, some theaters already are receiving threats and others expect protests from abortion activists.
“Some groups are saying that they’ll protest, and there’s a lot of people that will support,” BJ McKelvie, president of the company, told The Canadian Press. “We have one company that’s come under intense scrutiny, so he’s going to have security there. It’s The Movie Mill in Lethbridge, Alta. It’s been unfortunate that he’s had a lot of threats, a lot of emails.”
Some theaters told McKelvie that they will not show the film because it is too controversial, he said.
“This is a hot topic, it’s a hot film, and I have received probably hundreds of letters of support. But I’ve also received letters of protest and phone calls. I’ve listened to both sides but I’m just a distributor,” McKelvie said.
Ironically, Canadian abortion activists attacked the film by claiming it could incite violence against abortionists.
“It preaches an absolutist and extreme case against abortion that has nothing to do with reality,” the Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada said in a statement. “Because of the film’s demonization of abortion providers, ARCC fears the movie could incite fanatics to commit acts of harassment or violence against clinics or doctors.”
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But the opposite is true. Previously, Konzelman said they worked hard to accurately portray Johnson’s work at Planned Parenthood and her fellow employees.
“Abby was very firm that she wanted this film to be a love letter to those trapped in the abortion industry,” he said.
Johnson quit her job at Planned Parenthood a decade ago after watching an ultrasound-guided abortion and seeing the unborn baby fight for its life. Now, she runs a ministry called And Then There Were None, which provides support for abortion industry workers who want to quit.
Since the film was released in the U.S., nearly 100 abortion workers have reached out to the organization because they are thinking about quitting, The Western Journal reports.
The hostility in Canada is not unexpected. The filmmakers experienced obstacles in the U.S. as well.
Despite a media blackout, an ‘R’ rating designed to discourage viewers and little publicity outside conservative media circles, “Unplanned” opened in fourth place during its first weekend at the box office. It earned more than $18 million, and stayed in the top 10 in its second week at the box office
Konzelman said the film industry in Canada is just as liberal as in the U.S., and its leaders have been blocking their efforts to show “Unplanned” there, Movie Guide reported in May.
Johnson said she was not surprised to hear about the problems in Canada.
“I have to wonder what they’re afraid of,” she said, previously. “I’m also deeply concerned that many people here have not been able to speak publicly, because they are concerned about punishment. That is not democracy; that is oppression.”
In the United States, producers said most major TV outlets refused to run their ads. Twitter also temporarily suspended the film’s account, and Google labeled the film “propaganda” when people searched for it online. The online giant later removed the label after complaints.
To find out which Canadian theaters are screening “Unplanned,” visit UnplannedFilm.com.