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Two Canadian cinema owners receive death threats ahead of Unplanned screening

Lianne Laurence Lianne Laurence Follow Lianne

July 4, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) — Police are investigating death threats sent to two Canadian independent theatre owners because they are screening the pro-life movie Unplanned on July 12, LifeSiteNews has learned.

Unplanned dramatizes Abby Johnson’s conversion from Planned Parenthood abortion facility manager to pro-life advocate and was written, produced and directed by Cary Solomon and Chuck Konzelman. 

As a safety measure, the movie’s producers have now removed from their website the comprehensive July 12 listing of 46 Canadian theatres — independents, Cineplex and Landmark locations — that will be showing Unplanned, Konzelman told LifeSiteNews.

They did so at the request of B.J. McKelvie, pastor and president of Fredericton-based Cinedicon, the Canadian distributor of the film.

McKelvie confirmed to LifeSiteNews that two Canadian independent cinema owners contacted police after receiving death threats they perceived as credible, and that they are “fearful for their families.” 

Another Canadian independent theatre owner “has been harrassed to the extreme.”

One of the two owners who contacted the police has cancelled the Unplanned screening, but all the rest “are holding their ground,” McKelvie said.

He did not want to identify the locations, particularly because “it’s a police matter,” he told LifeSiteNews.

The alleged death threats are aimed at independent theatre owners because “they didn’t get anywhere with Cineplex, or they didn’t get anywhere with Landmark,” McKelvie said.

McKelvie told Canadian Press last week that the owner of the Movie Mill in Lethbridge, Alberta, had received threats and arranged to have security for the movie screening, but told LifeSiteNews he could neither confirm nor deny if this was one of the incidents police are investigating.

“It’s unfortunate it’s come to that,” McKelvie added. 

“It’s just a movie. The topic is certainly a hot topic. However, it is just a movie. I find it ironic, they talk about choice, pro-choice, pro-choice, pro-choice, but they’re not giving people a choice to go see the movie.” 

Indeed, Canada’s liberal media has been highlighting the allegations of the Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada that Unplanned is “propaganda,” spreads “vicious falsehoods,” and could “incite fanatics to commit acts of harassment or violence against clinics or doctors.”

Unplanned was released in U.S. theatres on March 29, but despite hostility and opposition in certain quarters, there were no incidents of any theatre receiving death threats, Konzelman said.

The movie reached No. 4 and grossed more than US$18 million at the box office, has an “A+” rating on CinemaScore, which tracks audience reaction, and led to many people changing to a pro-life position.

But in Canada, Unplanned was effectively banned from theatres because no Canadian distributor would agree to take it on.

After a groundswell of support grew into an ad hoc campaign Canada Wants Unplanned, McKelvie reached out to Unplanned producers, “annoyed” by “misinformation” online the movie had been “banned” in Canada, Canadian Press reported.

“I was walking down the hall grumbling and I heard the Lord say to me, ‘Well, why don’t you distribute it?’ and that was rather different,” McKelvie told Canadian Press. 

With the film generating such hostility, pro-life advocates expect protests at some of the screenings, Grandin Media reported.

However, Landmark told Canadian Press it had not heard of planned protests and has not increased security, and Cineplex said it will be monitoring the situation.

“We have been showing movies for over 100 years and controversial films on the big screen are not new to us — that said, we of course understand and can appreciate the concerns some have expressed about this film,” Sarah Van Lange, executive director of communications for Cineplex Entertainment, said in a statement to Canadian Press.

“We have a long legacy of not censoring content and our role as a film exhibitor is to provide our guests with movie choices,” she said.

Moreover, pro-lifers should not let the possibility of protests dissuade them from going to the movie, Faytene Graschesi, a member of Canada Wants Unplanned, told Grandin Media.

“Let’s not back down. If you see a crowd outside of a theatre, all the more the reason to go,” said Graschesi. “Pretty soon people are going to wake up and say, ‘Wow, these pro-lifers aren’t what I thought they were. They actually care.’”

“It’s really important that we stack these movie theatres,” echoed Campaign Life Coalition president Jeff Gunnarson in an email to supporters. “It’s time for Canadians to see what Abby saw that changed her life.”

Johnson believes Canadian pro-lifers have been inspired by their success in bringing Unplanned to theatres, Grandin Media reported.

“I think people in Canada … their pro-life voices are absolutely being silenced. Bringing Unplanned to Canada was sort of a way for them to feel like they’re getting their power back. They’re getting their voice back,” she said during a July 2 webinar with supporters.

Johnson also announced she has filed paperwork to open a Canadian chapter of her proactive ministry to abortion workers, And Then There Were None, but no further details are available at this time, Grandin Media reported. 

At press time, Unplannedtickets.com’s search feature still listed a number independent theatres where the movie will be playing, but no Cineplex or Landmark locations. 

According to the July 2 list, the movie will be shown from July 12 to July 18 at the following Cineplex and Landmark locations:

British Columbia 

Cineplex Cinema, Langley 
Cineplex Silvercity Mission Cinemas, Mission
Landmark Cinemas 12 Guilford, Surrey
Landmark Avalon Cinemas, Nanaimo
Landmark Grand 10 Cinema, Kelowna

Alberta

Cineplex South Edmonton Odeon 16, Edmonton
Cineplex Scotiabank Chinook 17, Calgary
Landmark Cinemas 10 Shawnessy, Calgary
Landmark Cinemas 16 Country Hills, Calgary 

Saskatchewan

Cineplex Cinemas Normanview, Regina
Cineplex Scotiabank Theatre, Saskatoon

Manitoba

Cineplex Scotiabank Theatre, Winnipeg
Landmark Cinemas 24, Winkler
Landmark Cinemas 9, Brandon

Ontario

Cineplex Yonge & Dundas, Toronto
Cineplex Cinemas Vaughan, Vaughan
Cineplex Winston Churchill 24, Oakville
Cineplex Silvercity London 12, London
Cineplex Silvercity Windsor, Windsor
Cineplex Scotiabank Theatre, Ottawa
Landmark Cinemas 12, Kitchener
Landmark Cinemas 24, Kanata
Landmark Cinemas 24, Whitby

Nova Scotia

Cineplex Cinemas Dartmouth Crossing, Dartmouth

Check Unplannedtickets.com for updated information, and local listings for Unplanned at independent theatres beginning July 12.

Groups can arrange a theatre buy-out for a screening if Unplanned is not showing in their area; for information on this option, go here.

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