• Controversial ‘Unplanned’ Backlashes on Critics — Thumps Box Office Predictions

    Surge Summary: Pro-Life film Unplanned overcame fierce opposition in Canada to shatter box-office expectations in its opening weekend. 

    For controversial pro-life film Unplanned, opening weekend (July 12-14) in Canada meant a smashing of box-office expectations: a “phenomenally strong” debut in more than 50 Canadian theatres.

    Lianne Laurence of LifeSiteNews supplies the details:

    In 49 theatres that reported revenues, the total haul came to over $350,00 CDN according to Pastor B.J. McKelvie, president of the Fredericton-based Cinedicom, Unplanned’s Canadian distributor.

    “The per-average theatre number is the second highest in North America” for that weekend, he told LifeSiteNews

    The movie relates a dramatic rendering of the conversion of Abby Johnson from Planned Parenthood abortion facility director to full-time pro-life advocate. She now works to save unborn babies, not kill them, founding the nonprofit, proactive ministry “And Then There Were None”, which is committed to helping people leave the abortion industry.

    The film’s writers and producers were also taken aback by Unplanned’s Canadian debut.

    “We expected a solid opening, but the No. 2 highest per-screen average in all of North America is something we couldn’t have predicted,” [Chuck] Konzelman told LifeSiteNews in an email.

    “We’ve been saying all along that we knew there was strong demand for the film in Canada, despite the obstacles placed in our way — including disparaging remarks,” he said.

    “We’re not sure exactly how many Canadians consider themselves pro-life … but we’re confident the number is larger than it was a week ago,” added Konzelman.

    “This is a film with the power to change hearts and minds.”

    The movie’s star, Ashley Bratcher, who plays Johnson, tweeted about the movie’s boffo box-office:

    An astounding $7,041 per screen average. Putting @UnplannedMovie in the top 5 of Indie Film opening weekends in 2019.https://t.co/ly2Ma3dlCm

    — Ashley Bratcher (@_AshleyBratcher) July 14, 2019

    Released widely in American theatres the end of March and garnering an A+ CinemaScore rating, (audience reaction), Unplanned grossed more than $18 million in the States.

    Yet, regardless of its impressive showing there, it was effectively banned from Canadian theatres — producers could not find a Canadian distributor. Then, in June, McKelvie stepped in.

    “Against all odds, we successfully brought Unplanned to the people of Canada,” … he said in a July 15 Carmel Communications press release.

    The movie’s eventual release in 14 major Cineplex locations, seven Landmark theatres, five Cinémas Guzzo venues in Quebec and 27 independent cinemas was met with intense opposition from Canadian pro-aborts.

    Of course, politics intervened in the hub-bub:

    Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s chief of staff Katie Telford took to Twitter last weekend to accuse Conservatives of abetting its release, and federal tourism minister Mélani Joly appeared on television to warn against the “anti-choice propaganda.”

    I am joining other women who are speaking out against the anti-choice propaganda movie ‘‘Unplanned’’. I worry when Conservative politicians who seem to come from another time promote it. We should not send Canada back 50 years. via @CTVNews pic.twitter.com/ujtrKzx8Cp

    — Mélanie Joly (@melaniejoly) July 11, 2019

    Now there’s one way to keep pro-life tourists from visiting the nation!

    But Unplanned‘s negative publicity may not have had the effect desired by the film’s enemies.

    Josie Luetke, youth coordinator at Campaign Life Coalition, Canada’s national pro-life political lobbying group suggests to LifeSiteNews all the negative publicity may have worked against intolerant pro-choicers:

    “The unsurprisingly strong turnout is a testament to both the power of Abby Johnson’s story and the efforts of grassroots pro-lifers who promoted Unplanned within their communities. … We are also grateful for the assistance of political figures and the mainstream media in increasing awareness of the film, though it’s a shame they largely did so through fear-mongering. We encourage everyone to keep up the discussion!”

    Can you say backlash?

    While the movie played to sold-out theaters on opening Friday, some protests flared although McKelvie remarked they were “small and quiet,” and “some of them really were just ridiculous.”

    Encountering some anti-Unplanned demonstrators outside a theater, Camilla Gunnarson, Campaign Life Coalition’s director of social media, posted on Facebook:

    “Went to see #unplannedmovie last night and was greeted by these protesters. … None of them had seen the film. Not sure why they would protest a film about one woman’s #abortion journey in which she eventually found herself on the side of life. The theatre was sold out and we ran into a local obstetrician who said all medical references and procedures were portrayed 100% accurately. Go and see @unplannedreported.”

    Recent reports reveal, however, some protests went beyond mere sign-holding and angry tweeting:

    [I]n the lead-up to Unplanned’s opening, two independent cinema managers/owners told McKelvie they contacted police over death threats.

    At least one theater stationed two security guards outside the theatre, Campaign Life Coalition’s Debbie Duval told LifeSiteNews.

    A security guard inside the facility informed moviegoer they were ready to respond to any disturbance inside the theatre.

    Meantime …

    Whether or not theatres will be extending the movie’s run because of the “incredibly strong” opening is only speculation at this point, McKelvie told LifeSiteNews.

    Some independents may hold it over, but Cineplex has been clear so far that it’s not going beyond its initial agreement to screen Unplanned in 14 locations for a week, he said.

    Prompting the question among objective observers: “Why not?” Green is green, money is money. If Unplanned is earning it …?

    Cineplex is also renting its theatres to groups for private screenings.

    “I was hoping” Cineplex would extend the run “when they saw those strong numbers. And they had a few other bookers in the industry saying, ‘Are they holding it?’” McKelvie said.

    “It was kind of the talk of the town, and the shock of the town, but that’s the way it is.”

    This entire incendiary cycle illustrates one of many ways grassroots, pro-life efforts are reaching hearts, changing hearts … and inescapably stirring up controversy along the way.

    Regardless of the hostility directed toward them, those devoted to saving pre-born human beings’ lives ought to be encouraged to keep at it.

    Image: By Source (WP:NFCC#4), Fair use, to provide a visual identity to the subject of an Unplanned article. https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=60119626

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