Theater Company Stands Firm, Chooses To Show Anti-Abortion Film Amid Boycott Threats


The anti-abortion film “Unplanned” has created a fair amount of controversy, from a random Twitter ban to the usual slate of negative reviews that almost universally accompany any movie with a conservative message.

That hasn’t dulled its appeal at the box office, where it has earned more than $18 million in the United States against a $6 million production budget, according to Box Office Mojo. That’s a pretty hefty total. It also may be why activists in our neighbor to the north don’t want the film shown at all.

According to the Washington Examiner, Canadian theater chain Cineplex is standing firm against those calling for a boycott, saying that customers can make up their own minds as to whether to watch the film.

The movie chronicles the story of former Planned Parenthood clinic director Abby Johnson, who became an anti-abortion champion after witnessing the procedure. Cineplex will be showing the movie at 14 auditoriums across Canada.

With the Canadian release of “Unplanned” coming up this Friday, Cineplex was inundated with lovely, measured tweets such as these:

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It wasn’t just hashtivists going after the film. Somewhat incredibly, the Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada said that “Unplanned” was “a dangerous piece of anti-abortion propaganda” and that “[b]ecause of the film’s demonization of abortion providers, ARCC fears the movie could incite fanatics to commit acts of harassment or violence against clinics or doctors.”

Apparently, you can’t even show a film with a point of view at variance with that of the Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada without literally putting the lives of abortion providers at risk.

Thankfully, Cineplex CEO Ellis Jacob decided not to bow to the mob.

“I have been working in this business for well over thirty years and controversial films on the big screen are not new to me, to Cineplex, or to the industry as a whole,” Jacob said in a statement.

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“That said, the decision to move forward with screenings of this particular film was a complicated one and it was not made easily or lightly. But as leader of Canada’s largest film exhibition company, I am confident that it was the right decision for us, for you and for our country.

Have you seen "Unplanned" yet?

“When I immigrated to Canada back in 1969, one of the things that I loved, and still love, the most about living here is that we don’t shy away from our differences … we embrace them. Canada is a country that believes in and rallies behind freedom of expression, but that isn’t always an easy thing to do and it certainly doesn’t always make you popular. In this instance, many of us will have to set aside our own personal beliefs and remember that living in a country that censors content, opinions and points of view because they are different from our own is not a country that any of us would want to live in.”

Jacob went on to note that “Unplanned” had been rated by the appropriate film authorities and deemed acceptable to exhibit.

“I understand and appreciate the concerns about the film, but it is up to each of us to decide whether or not we want to see it. In Canada, we have that option and I think it is an important thing to remember,” Jacob said in conclusion.

Of course, the letter led to more enlightened tweets like this one:

Yes, a point of view that differs from yours can “impede on human rights.” And there was more:

I’m personally of the view that the most important human right — once you get beyond life and liberty — is the freedom of speech. Saying that a film cannot exercise it or that a theater chain cannot display a movie because people have the right to make a choice as to what they want to see is in blatant opposition to that freedom.

According to Jacob’s letter, there are 1,700 Cineplex auditoriums across Canada. Only 14 of them will be showing “Unplanned.” If you don’t want to go, don’t go. There are plenty of other movies playing, some of which probably have suitably liberal themes. You can go to them, Canadian liberals.

My guess is that “Unplanned” will draw a select audience of Christians, conservatives and the curious. Everyone else isn’t going to care. And that’s the way it ought to be.

Perhaps Google and Facebook ought to take some notes.

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C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014.
C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014. Aside from politics, he enjoys spending time with his wife, literature (especially British comic novels and modern Japanese lit), indie rock, coffee, Formula One and football (of both American and world varieties).
Morristown, New Jersey
Catholic University of America
Languages Spoken
English, Spanish
Topics of Expertise
American Politics, World Politics, Culture