Moviegoers in Canada will not currently be able to see Unplanned in theaters. Three of the nation’s largest distributors have rejected the movie, meaning that it cannot even receive a rating.
“We have been effectively blocked from distributing the film in Canada,” said producer Lisa Wheeler, according to Life Site News.
Rejected Because of ‘Content’
Unplanned tells the real-life story of Abby Johnson, a former Planned Parenthood employee who became a pro-life advocate after witnessing an abortion. Life Site reports that for films to be legally shown in Canada and to receive a rating, they must have distributors. Three of the largest Canadian distributors, Cineplex, Landmark, and Mongrel Media, have refused to show Unplanned, citing the film’s “content” as their reason for rejecting it.
Chuck Konzelman, who wrote, directed, and produced Unplanned, told Life Site in an email that when Cinemark shut them down, it closed off any chance for showing the movie in the country. “In Canada, Cineplex basically has monopolistic power,” he said. “The National Post mentions them as controlling nearly 80 percent of all movie screens, and from our limited experience, they seem to have many of the most desirable locations, in and near the major metropolitan areas. So rejection by Cineplex basically means we’re not playing in Canada.”
Konzelman says it is odd for Canada to reject an indie film that has done so well in the U.S. The movie, budgeted at $6 million, has made $18 million since its release in March, despite facing numerous obstacles. The MPAA gave the film an R-rating, presumably making it less likely that the film’s conservative target audience would go see it. This rating, according to Konzelman, “also precluded us from using the single most effective form of motion picture advertising — paid placement of our theatrical trailer before other films in theaters.”
The majority of the major television networks in the U.S. refused to promote the film. Even Google took steps that impeded Unplanned’s success when it blocked the film’s pre-lease banner ads. And that’s not to mention the fact that Twitter temporarily suspended the movie’s account during its opening weekend and then deleted most of the account’s followers, reducing them from 200,000 to fewer than 200.
The Content is Having an Impact
Regarding the alleged reason the distributors have rejected Unplanned, Konzelman told Life Site, “What’s wrong with our content?” The film has “no foul language, no nudity, no sexuality, and the only violence is that which is necessarily connected with an abortion procedure.”
Johnson has said that she is not surprised by the ban and also noted, “I have to wonder what they’re afraid of.”
The film certainly seems to be having an impact. Since its release, quite a few abortion workers have sought help from Johnson’s nonprofit, And Then There Were None. At the March for Life rally in Ottawa earlier this May, Johnson said, “We’re over a month out, and I’m still waking up to messages from people saying ‘I walked into the film pro-choice, I walked out pro-life.’ I’m getting messages from women who went into the film who were considering abortion…then walked out and chose life for their children.”
She exhorted Canadians not to shy away from standing up for the unborn: “You gotta stop being so dang polite. Life is on the line. Children are being killed, dismembered in their mothers’ wombs. There is nothing polite about abortion, and it is time for us to stop cowering to the liberal media, to your Liberal parliament. Enough is enough.”