After being blocked from Canadian cinemas, the movie, Unplanned, will finally be released to the Canadian public on July 12. The film follows the life of Abby Johnson as she transitions from being a Planned Parenthood director into a prominent pro-life voice.
Canada is the first country outside of the United States with a confirmed release date to screen the film. On the Unplannedwebsite, producers Cary Soloman and Chuck Konzelman mentioned how “it took a petition, a boycott, and a brave independent distributor who would bring this movie to” a Canadian audience. The producers struck a deal with Cinedicom to distribute Unplanned. Landmark Theatres will receive the film from Cinedicom and will be screening in all 45 of their theatres in Ontario, Western Canada, and Yukon.
A deal was also finalized with Cineplex, as the movie’s website stated that the film will be screened in at least 15 theatres. Canada’s largest movie theatre company initially blocked the film. Cineplex told the Catholic Register’sDeborah Gyapong that the film had no national distributor. All films that are shown in Canadian theatres are required to be picked up by a distribution company. Since Unplannedcurrently had no distributor willing to bring the film north of the border, it could only be screened within the United States. In response to Canadian theatres’ initial drive to censor the film from Canadian audiences, Citizen GO launched a petition urging Cineplex to reconsider their decision. Over 200,000 people signed the online petition.
Some Canadians have continued their response to Cineplex’s censorship of the film. A website, canadawantsunplanned.ca, was created by Faytene Grasseschi to encourage Canadians to start a nine-month nation-wide boycott against Cineplex. The boycott against Cineplex began on May 19. The boycott ended when Cineplex announced that it will screen the film in select theatres.
On June 11, the movie’s producers announced that the film was finally picked up by the independent Canadian distributor, Cinedicom. BJ McKelvie, the president of Cinedicom, saw the disappointment people had when the news reported that the film was entirely blocked from Canadian theatres. “I complained to God that I was hearing that Unplannedwas banned in Canada and I heard His voice loud and clear, ‘Why don’t you distribute it?’ It was a defining moment for me,” McKelvie stated on the Unplannedmovie’s website.
According to journalist Kyle Greenham, the “filmmakers expect to see Unplannedshown in 100-200 theatres” across Canada when all is said and done. More than 2,800 people attended the first Canadian public screening on May 14 in Edmonton. There have also been a few private screenings throughout the country, including one that took place at the National Museum of History in Quebec on May 7, two days before Canada’s National March For Life. Campaign Life Coalition reported that over 500 pro-life leaders and grassroots activists attended the screening, and Abby Johnson was present for a question-and-answer.
Matthew Wojciechowski, vice president of Campaign Life Coalition, told The Interimthat the film is going to have an impact on anyone who sees it regardless of where they stand on abortion. “This movie will strengthen a pro-lifer’s convictions, while being a wake up call to those who are on the fence,” said Wojciechowski. “More importantly, it will force those who support abortion to question their position.”
Ruth Shaw, executive director of National Campus Life Network, also believes that the film will have a great impact on the abortion debate in Canada. She told Kyle Greenham that Unplanned“can reshape the narrative for young people” as the film “so boldly (depicted) the reality of abortion.”
On the other hand, the Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada tweeted their disapproval of the film’s release. They stated that Landmark Cinemas should block the film as it would be “a bad financial decision” and that the film is “filled with lies that will make abortion providers/clinics more vulnerable to violence.” They also mentioned how the movie “portrays abortion as unsafe” and that “many theaters are located in places without abortion access.”
When Unplannedopened in theatres on March 29 in the United States, it earned more than $6 million within its first weekend. The movie also managed to grab the fourth spot at the box office that opened weekend. Despite gaining a 48 per cent critic review score on Rotten Tomatoes, the audience score was higher at a 92 per cent approval rating. But quickly disappeared from theatres.
The filmmakers have started a gofundme for an international launch of Unplannedso that the film can be shown worldwide. For tickets and location information about when and where Unplannedwill be screened, visit https://unplannedtickets.com/.