Anti-Abortion Pic 'Unplanned' Opens Strong in Canadian Theaters

Unplanned-Publicity Still-H 2019
Pure Flix

The film earned $352,510 on its opening weekend, despite negative publicity and protests for its one-week run north of the border.

The controversial anti-abortion drama Unplanned opened to a strong $353,510 from 49 theaters at the Canadian box office, despite negative publicity and protests.

The Christian faith movie also had a per-screen average of $7,164 over the July 12-14 weekend, per Box Office Mojo. Unplanned opened on March 29 stateside and earned $6.1 million from 1,059 theaters at the U.S. box office on its opening weekend, or a per-screen average of $6,027, for faith-based distributor Pure Flix.

The North American box office take for Unplanned as of July 15 stood at $18.55 million, after the pic took in $18,106 stateside over an 11-week theatrical release. 

The Canadian commercial release was delayed as Unplanned struggled to find a local distributor, which finally emerged with Cinedicom, a cinema booking agent based in Fredericton, New Brunswick. Cineplex, Canada’s largest theater chain, had to defend on free expression grounds its decision to screen Unplanned on 14 of its nationwide screens.

"I understand and can 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," Cineplex president and CEO Ellis Jacob said in a letter posted to the company's Twitter account.

Unplanned was also picked up for a one-week run at rival chains like Cinema Guzzo in Quebec and Imagine Cinemas, Landmark Cinemas and indie cinema houses in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Ontario. The American faith film, written and directed by Chuck Konzelman and Cary Solomon, tells the true story of Abby Johnson, who defected from Planned Parenthood to become a pro-life activist after witnessing an abortion at 13 weeks.

The commercial release of Unplanned north of the border was preceded by the Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada warning the U.S. movie could encourage reprisals against abortion providers here. "The film’s vicious falsehoods against providers could incite hatred and violence against them, including here in Canada. But the film also aims to challenge abortion rights. That’s a non-starter in Canada, where women and transgender people have a Charter right to abortion based on their rights to bodily autonomy and equality," Joyce Arthur, executive director of the Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada, said in a statement.

Unplanned also earned negative reviews from major film critics in Canada, where abortion has been legally available to women since 1969. "Unplanned will make you writhe in agony over how such an ugly, malicious and potentially dangerous piece of religious and political propaganda could have made its way into this world," wrote Barry Hertz, who reviewed the film for the Globe and Mail newspaper.

"And even if presented to a mixed audience, Unplanned is neither smart enough to rally anyone to its cause, nor dumb enough to alienate those who believe its message. As propaganda, therefore, it’s basically useless. And as cinema, it’s poorly made," National Post critic Chris Knight wrote in his review.