Cineplex moving forward with screening of controversial anti-abortion film 'Unplanned'

Jul 9 2019, 12:49 pm

The controversial pro-life film Unplanned will be hitting the big screen in Canada after all.

On Monday afternoon, Ellis Jacob, president and CEO of Cineplex, defended the Canadian theatre’s decision to screen the film, which is based on the true story of Abby Johnson, one of the youngest Planned Parenthood clinic directors in Texas who became an anti-abortion speaker.

Jacob said after receiving many phone calls and emails over the past few weeks, making the decision to move forward with the screening was “a complicated one and it was not made easily or lightly.”

Starting this Friday, July 12, the American drama will be screened at 14 out of nearly 1,700 auditoriums across Canada for a limited run of one week.

“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,” said Jacob in a public statement.

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Jacob reminded the public that playing controversial films on the big screen is nothing new to Cineplex or to the industry.

“When I immigrated to Canada back in 1969, one of the things that I loved, and still love, the most about living here was that we didn’t shy away from our differences — we embrace them,” said Jacob in his statement.

“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 want to live in.”

Jacob said when it comes to determining whether content is appropriate for movie audiences, the responsibility of setting age ratings falls to provincial and territorial governments, through film classification boards.

He added that Unplanned has been reviewed and rated by these boards, which is why Cineplex is moving forward with its planned screenings.

“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,” Jacob said.

“In Canada, we have that option and I think it is an important thing to remember.”

Cineplex’s decision, however, has stirred up very mixed reactions, with Canadians falling on both sides of the issue. Some Canadians called the film “propaganda” and threatened to take their money elsewhere.

But some did commend Cineplex for their decision and applauded the organization for giving Canadians the opportunity to make their own decisions.