Unplanned tells the true story of how Abby Johnson, a Planned Parenthood abortion clinic director, changed her mind and now fights for the unborn. Her story hit cinema screens in late March and had already made $18 million, or three times what the film cost to make.
But that success has been hard won.
Shows abortion isn’t just another surgery
First, the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) announced they were giving Unplanned a restricted or “R rating” which meant the trailer could only run before other R-rated films and anyone under 17 would need to be accompanied by a parent or adult guardian to see it. That put a big dent into its potential audience. The rating was a controversial one because the film received no cautions for profanity, nudity, or sex. While the MPAA’s listed caution is for “disturbing/bloody images,” the only such scenes involve abortion.
The film’s writers/directors Cary Solomon and Chuck Konzelman shared with MovieGuide.org how “ironically, the MPAA seems to be indirectly endorsing the pro-life position: namely that abortion is an act of violence.” The Washington Post’s Mark Thiessen echoed that thought: “They would not give it an ‘R’ if it depicted a tonsillectomy.”
Can’t see, but can do?
Solomon and Konzelman went on to detail how the R rating was doubly ironic.
“…many teenage women in this country who can legally obtain an actual abortion without parental permission will be prohibited from going to see our film containing simulated images of abortion, without obtaining parental permission.”
A different sort of roadblock was used in Canada, where both major movie chains, Cineplex Odeon and Landmark, are refusing to show it. However, there is demand for the film, as was evident in mid-May when the film had a successful private showing in Edmonton for a crowd of almost 3,000.
Turning evil to good
A third irony? Even as the movie industry seems intent on preventing people from seeing Unplanned, their efforts are aiding in its publicity. Articles have appeared in The New York Times, Glamour, Hollywood Reporter, and Fortune (not to mention countless conservative and Christian sites) and they touch on more than just the controversial rating – many of them raise, and attempt to rebut, what the film says happens behind Planned Parenthood clinic doors.
Hollywood may have stopped some people from seeing this film but God is using their efforts to get many more talking and learning about what abortion does to the unborn.