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EDMONTON, June 3, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – Makers of the pro-life movie “Unplanned” are hoping to finalize a deal this week to bring the acclaimed drama to Canadian theaters.
Based on the story of Abby Johnson’s conversion from Planned Parenthood abortion center manager to pro-life advocate after witnessing the ultrasound abortion of a 13-week-old unborn child, Unplanned is currently effectively blocked in Canada because no Canadian distributor has so far agreed to take it on.
Chuck Konzelman, the film’s writer, co-director, and producer, told LifeSiteNews in an earlier interview that one of Canada’s two largest distributors cited “content” as its reason for not accepting Unplanned.
By law, a film cannot be released in Canadian theatres without a Canadian distributor. Nor can producers apply to have the movie assessed by provincial rating boards until they’ve secured such a distributor.
But now a groundswell of support might get Unplanned into Canada after all, says co-director Cary Solomon.
“Pro-life forces and grassroots support in Canada have been amazing,” he told LifeSiteNews in an email.
Last week, LifeSiteNews launched a petition calling on Mongrel Media and Cineplex Inc. to “distribute the film to cinemas in Canada and allow an alternative message to reach Canadians.” The petition has been signed by over 4,600 people.
Solomon confirmed to LifeSiteNews that the Unplanned team is close to making a deal to get the movie released in Canadian theatres, but not with Cineplex.
“A deal has not been struck as of yet. However we are hopeful that next week we will have good news regarding Unplanned playing in Canada,” Solomon told LifeSiteNews in an email last week.
“What we can tell you is that the deal we are close to making is not with Cineplex although we are still talking to them,” added Solomon.
Along with Landmark, Cineplex is one of Canada’s two largest distributors in Canada, and owns 80 percent of the country’s theatres.
It’s also the specific target of a boycott launched by grassroots campaign Canada Wants Unplanned, Grandin Media reported last week. “Canada Wants Unplanned” sprang to life after almost 3,000 people attended the first public screening of Unplanned at the Edmonton Expo Center arena on May 14, a free event hosted by Harvest Ministries International, Grandin Media reported.
Up to that point, makers of Unplanned had been discouraged about the movie’s future in Canada, but one of the film’s producers, Sheila Hart, told the crowd that night that seeing the numbers gave them confidence, it reported.
“This is a key moment in Canada’s history,” Hart said. “We believe that hope will rise and the country will claim justice for the unborn.”
Moreover, “there were some influencers” among the 2,800 viewers in Edmonton that night, “and the next morning conversations were already happening,” Faytene Grasseschi, a pro-life advocate and Ontario-based television host, told Grandin Media.
“We decided to really capitalize on the momentum coming out of Edmonton and launch a Canada-wide plan to reinforce that Canadians want this film.”
The issue is “about freedom of speech. When an industry owns 80 percent of theaters in Canada, they need to play fair and let reasonable voices be heard,” Grassechi noted in a May 24 press release.
Moreover, “it is not unreasonable to believe other films with these market analytics would have been picked up immediately,” she said.
Unplanned has “brought in about $18 million USD to date and hit $6.4 million USD in revenue opening weekend more than doubling expectations,” according to the press release.
“It has also received an A+ Cinemascore rating which means the probability of success in the theaters is very high. Whether people go to see it because they agree, or disagree, many feel the Edmonton screening is a foretaste of what is to come.”
The “Canada Wants Unplanned” boycott received more than 5,000 signatures within five days.
As well as the public screening in Edmonton, Unplanned was shown privately to Members of Parliament in Ottawa, and producers held another private screening following a press conference.
The movie has made a tremendous impact in the United States, Solomon pointed out in a May 24 press conference, as reported in Grandin Media.
“There is a side of this issue that doesn’t want anyone to see the movie, and what I say to that side is ‘What are you scared of people seeing?’” he said.
“We are having staggering effects here in America. One to two abortion workers are leaving the abortion industry each day; we have thousands of women who have had abortions reach out and say that after seeing this movie, they finally feel free,” said Solomon.
“We believe that the Lord will open the doors to Canada and all Canadians will be able to make their own choice on whether they wish to see Unplanned or not,” he added.