Pro-life movie Unplanned faced a number of obstacles during its limited release in theaters, but in just its first week of hitting Amazon, it rose to the number-one spot in DVD sales.
Unplanned focuses on the true story of Abby Johnson, a volunteer at Planned Parenthood who went on to become a clinic director before she experienced a life-changing epiphany that transformed her into an outspoken pro-life activist. Today, she leads And Then There Were None, a non-profit that helps abortion workers to leave the industry.
Pro-abortion advocates fought hard to keep the film from reaching audiences. In Canada, for example, Landmark, Cineplex, and Mongrel Media — three of the nation’s largest movie distributors — initially banned the film because of its “content.” When Cineplex and Landmark finally agreed to distribute the film, they announced they would not extend its weeklong run, even as moviegoers packed theaters to see the film.
Unplanned director Chuck Konzelman testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on the Constitution to detail some of the efforts by pro-abortion advocates to limit the film’s reach.
“The [Motion Picture Association of America] saddled us with an ‘R’ rating, which strongly discourages much of the Christian audience, and all of the Church of Latter-day Saints from seeing our film, since they have a general prohibition against seeing “R” rated films,” he said. “It also precluded us from using the single most effective form of motion picture advertising — paid placement of our theatrical trailer before other films in theaters.”
We also looked to advertise on cable television. But with the exception of Fox News and CBN, we were systematically denied access to the outlets where we sought to advertise — among which were Lifetime, UP TV, Hallmark, HGTV, USA Network, Food Network, The Travel Channel, DIY and the Cooking Channel. In fact, Lifetime, which is owned by A&E Networks, a joint venture of Walt Disney and Hearst Communications, told our buyers that they were refusing due to the “sensitive nature of the film,” but had previously promoted an interview with Scarlett Johansson in which she promoted Planned Parenthood. We consider these blanket refusals highly unusual and highly discriminatory, and have formally petitioned the FCC to look further into the matter.
Google also blocked the entirety of the film’s pre-release banner ads, Konzelman added, citing a policy regarding abortion-related ads, and the film’s Twitter account mysteriously was suspended hours before the film’s theatrical debut. When the Twitter account was restored, a majority of the followers had been deleted.
But despite all of the efforts against the film, it had surprising theatrical success, with a box office take of more than $18 million, more than two times its production cost of $6 million. And the film’s success is clearly continuing long after it has left theaters. As of this writing, it is still the #1 bestselling movie on Amazon.
Pro-abortion advocates view Unplanned as a threat to their agenda because the abortion industry has shielded the general public from the horrors of abortion and the film brings the harsh reality front and center. And much to the chagrin of abortion advocates, Unplanned has already had an extraordinary impact. CNB News reports the film has motivated at least 94 abortion clinic workers to leave the field. And Live Action reports that during the first two weeks of the film’s U.S. release, there was a 30 percent increase in the number of calls to the Abortion Pill Rescue Network, which links women to doctors who provide abortion pill reversal. It is amazing how many people become pro-life when they know what an abortion actually is, when they understand that the “fetus” is actually a human life.
Unplanned has the potential to reach many more people as it is making its way around the world. The movie will open in Australia and New Zealand next, starting on September 11.
“We are so grateful to the people of Australia who welcomed us with open arms and found a way to bring this powerful story to their country,” said Daryl Lefever, producer of Unplanned. “I had the opportunity to visit Australia and it’s incredible to see this story embraced by other countries — we know that the world is suffering under the weight of a permeating pro-death culture and Abby’s story is the antidote.”