July 12, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) — The firestorm of controversy in Canada over the screening of the pro-life movie Unplanned promises to continue tonight when the movie opens in 53 theatres across the country.
The American film 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.
Canadian abortion advocates and some media are denouncing the movie as “dangerous propaganda” and have taken to social media to plan protests in several locations, including the Cineplex’s Yonge and Dundas complex in downtown Toronto; Chinook Centre Cineplex in Calgary, Alberta; Landmark Cinema 12 in Kitchener, Ontario; and Cineplex Galaxy Theatres in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.
A petition is circulating on change.org against Landmark and Cineplex for showing the movie at seven and 14 locations respectively, and self-described “progressive” movement north99.org is soliciting signatures for a message to Cineplex asking it to not show the movie.
Meanwhile, in the lead-up to the film’s July 12 release, aspiring moviegoers were frustrated by a lack of information on Unplanned showtimes on the Cineplex website, a problem resolved on Wednesday.
And with Canada’s federal election coming in the fall, Unplanned has become political, with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s chief of staff Katie Telford spending “the whole weekend on Twitter talking about how this is dangerous, blaming Conservative politicians in Canada for allowing this to happen,” co-director Konzelman told Fox News on Sunday.
Telford tweeted Friday:
This is happening, at least in part, thanks to the support received by federal Conservative politicians.
— Katie Telford (@telfordk) July 5, 2019
Konzelman told Fox News the only mainstream journalist in Canada who interviewed him was CBC Radio Montreal’s Nancy Caouette, who asked him a question he’d never been asked before: “This seems to be creating a lot of fear. Do you agree and if so, do you know what the root of that is?”
“Yes, there is tremendous fear regarding this issue,” Konzelman said he told Caouette.
“And the root of the fear is this: if we ever identify the unborn child, the child of the womb, as a human being we’re going to have to change our behavior towards it,” he said.
“Tens of thousands have gone to this film pro-choice and have come out pro-life, and that’s a threat.”
That was echoed by Josie Luetke, youth coordinator for Campaign Life Coalition, Canada’s national pro-life, pro-family political lobbying group and largest pro-life association.
“The opposition to this movie by pro-abortion politicians and abortion activists has been a great indicator that they are terrified of the movie’s power to influence public opinion,” said Luetke in a July 12 press release.
“They would prefer to keep Canadians in the dark about the grisly business of abortion and the suffering it causes women and abortion workers who are seeking a way out of the industry,” she added.
“It’s about time Canadians see what Abby saw that changed everything.”
Indeed, so great has the backlash been against Unplanned in Canada that Cineplex CEO Ellis Jacobs released an open letter Monday defending his firm’s decision to show the movie on the grounds of freedom of speech.
The Salmar Grand theatre in Salmon Arm, BC, cancelled its screening of the movie after the theatre manager received threats, CTV News reported.
LifeSiteNews reported last Friday that B.J. McKelvie of Cinedicon, the Fredericton-based Canadian distributor of Unplanned, confirmed that two cinema owners contacted police over death threats they perceived as credible.
McKelvie reiterated to LifeSiteNews on Wednesday that two cinema manager/owners told him they had contacted police because of death threats, but that he could not disclose where the theaters are located.
Three of the 10 Landmark locations originally set to show Unplanned have cancelled the screenings: Country Hills in Calgary, Guildwood in Surrey, BC, and the Grand 10 in Kelowna, BC.
Landmark CEO Bill Walker told Global News paring down the number of locations was based on the usual decision-making process about what movies to screen, but that there’s been more feedback from both sides on Unplanned in Kelowna than other areas.
Landmark agreed to let the Kelowna Right to Life Society screen the movie at its Kelowna Grand 10 location on July 15, with tickets going on sale July 9, reported Kelowna Capital News.
There is also another private showing at West Kelowna at the Xtreme 8 on July 17 that’s already sold out, it reported.
“There’s a lot of vocal voices on this issue,” Walker told Kelowna Capital News.
“We certainly heard from many of those and are having conversations with some. We’re trying to support people who are really passionate about the content and want to see the movie—and through these private rentals, they can do that.”
Independent Cottonwood Cinemas in Chilliwack, BC, which is screening Unplanned from the 12 to the 18 of July, sold out its July 15 7:00 p.m. showing.
“We had many request since it was aired in America,” owner Pauline Lamb told CTVNews. “People are asking constantly if we are playing it.”
The list of theatres screening Unplanned can be viewed here.
Showtimes for Unplanned can be found at unplannedtickets.com, or by searching individual cinema websites.
At this time, Leduc Cinemas in Alberta is not showing on unplannedtickets.com. A theatre representative told LifeSiteNews Unplanned is screening there, and showtimes would be on the website Thursday.