Last week, Hollywood actors threated to boycott the state of Georgia over its heartbeat bill, which would essentially ban abortion after about the sixth week of pregnancy. These actors argued that the loss of their business would have a detrimental impact on the state’s economy, but after this last weekend, maybe that threat isn’t as true as they would like people to believe.
“Unplanned,” the pro-life movie about former Planned Parenthood clinic director Abby Johnson, did exceptionally well at the box office in its initial debut. According to Box Office Mojo, the film earned an impressive $6.4 million, ranking at the number four spot behind “Dumbo,” “Us,” and “Captain Marvel.” For a pro-life Christian film to rank so highly against other blockbuster films is great, but it wasn’t an easy journey.
Since day one, the film has faced spiritual and cultural opposition.
The co-directors of the film shared that while the on set filming experience was calm, things weren’t always great for the cast and crew outside the studio walls. Cary Solomon, one of the directors, shared with Catholic Herald that there were about 15 car accidents that involved members of the production, including star Ashley Bratcher, or their family members. All were lucky to walk away from those accidents without serious injury.
After filming, perhaps one of the worst things to happen to the production is the decision by the MPAA to give the film an R rating, usually the kiss of death to most films. In general, most Hollywood productions prefer a PG-13 to an R rating, unless the film is designed with an adult audience in mind, because it usually negatively impacts audience attendance. But that’s not what happened to “Unplanned.” Instead, the R rating and the ensuing media articles and social media outrage helped the film attract more attention and likely contributed to more ticket sales. The R rating, for some disturbing/bloody images, also demonstrated that while Planned Parenthood might call abortion a “safe, simple medical procedure,” the reality is something entirely different.
As the film neared its release date, the producers had a difficult time trying to get television stations and Christian radio to play their advertisements. For example, Lifetime, Travel Channel, HGTV, and the Hallmark Channel all declined the opportunity to air “Unplanned” ads. Only Fox News and the Christian Broadcasting Network made an exception. Even KLOVE, the popular Christian radio station, initially passed on the ads because of the film’s R rating. The station eventually reversed course after public outcry about the decision.
When it was finally opening weekend, anticipation for the film was high. But again, things didn’t go off as smoothly as some would’ve liked. Over the weekend, the film’s official Twitter page suddenly went dark. The page was quickly reinstated, with Twitter explaining that it was an “error.” It was just another example of a pro-life film that has struggled against a pro-abortion media environment, but “Unplanned” has gotten the last word. As of today, the official “Unplanned” Twitter account has 324,000 followers and Planned Parenthood has only 259,000.
There will always be opposition from the media and Hollywood when any pro-life film comes out, but that doesn’t mean that the movie will be unsuccessful. “Unplanned” shows that there is a deep appetite for films that demonstrate a pro-life message and that an R rating or a Twitter blackout will not stop people from discovering the truth about abortion.
Photo from Facebook via Unplanned.