How controversial is it in 2019 to make a movie that treats abortion as something to be avoided rather than celebrated? Controversial enough so that PureFlix, the studio behind the new movie “Unplanned” were unable to market their film on any other mainstream TV network other than Fox News. Despite a huge, 1,000-theater rollout of the Christian film on Friday, the movie’s marketing ran aground when Lifetime, Hallmark Channel, HGTV, and many other networks rejected their commercials.
From the Hollywood Reporter:
If you haven’t seen a commercial for Unplanned, an anti-abortion movie critical of Planned Parenthood, it isn’t for lack trying on the part of marketers, whose efforts have been consistently rebuffed by TV networks.
Pure Flix, the distributor behind the box office hit God’s Not Dead and other movies aimed at Christians, opens the movie in 1,000 theaters today, but outside of the Fox News Channel, every other mainstream television outlet has declined to air the ad.
Lifetime, for example, told the film’s marketers that they declined to air the commercial due to the “sensitive nature of the film,” the ad buyers tell The Hollywood Reporter. The marketers though, note that the network — which is owned by A&E Networks, a joint venture of Walt Disney and Hearst Communications — previously promoted an interview with Scarlett Johansson where she pitches Planned Parenthood.
Yes, well, we’ve seen that exact hypocrisy before. Dennis Prager’s anti-abortion videos are regularly censored or slapped with an age-verification warning on YouTube while thousands of pro-abortion videos sail right through. Somehow, abortion only becomes a controversial or “adult” topic when it is treated as anything other than God’s gift to women. This is also why “Unplanned” got an R rating despite being wholly appropriate for a teenage audience.
Speaking of the internet, Twitter once again proved that its supposedly objective rules of the road are nothing of the sort when they banned the “Unplanned” official account. After being swamped with complaints from pro-lifers, Twitter quickly restored the account. If the objective was to damage the film in its opening weekend, the Twitter flap might have had the opposite effect: The “Unplanned” account gained more than 8,000 new followers thanks to the censorship controversy.
Despite all of this working against the movie, “Unplanned” managed to wrangle up a $6.1 million opening weekend, finishing fifth and outperforming industry expectations. Perhaps even more telling, the movie scored a relatively rare “A+” Cinemascore rating, which is a measure of audience satisfaction.
Hollywood may wish that films with wholesome, Christian themes would just go away, but every time a well-done movie is made for this underserved slice of the American public, viewers turn out in droves. With or without any help from the mainstream media.