Canadian police are investigating death threats sent to independent movie theater owners who announced that they will show the pro-life film “Unplanned.”
“Unplanned” premiered in the United States on March 29 of this year and tells the story of Abby Johnson, who went from managing one of Planned Parenthood’s abortion clinics to becoming a fierce pro-life advocate.
Johnson radically changed her position when in 2009 she had to help with an ultrasound-guided abortion and watched in horror as a 13-week-old baby fought for his life until he ended up dead in the hands of the abortionist.
From that traumatic episode, she realized what an abortion really was and sought help from a local pro-life association to raise awareness in pursuit of defending life in the womb.
The film reached No. 4 in audience ratings and raised more than $18 million at the box office. It has an “A+” rating on CinemaScore—a consultant that measures the reaction of audiences—and, according to the critics, has led many people to adopt a pro-life stance.
On July 12, the renowned film is scheduled to be shown in dozens of theaters across Canada.
However, managers at several of the cinemas have said that they received death threats against them and their families not to show the film.
The threats were confirmed by BJ McKelvie, pastor and president of Fredericton-based Cinedicon, the film’s Canadian distributor.
McKelvie told LifeSiteNews that two owners of independent Canadian cinemas contacted police after receiving death threats they considered credible and “they feared for their families.”
Last week, the head of Cinedicon told Canadian Press that the owner of Movie Mill in Lethbridge, Alberta, had received threats and had arranged to have security for the screening of the film, but he later clarified to LifeSiteNews that he could neither confirm nor deny that this was one of the incidents the police are investigating.
In this context, the Salmar Classic cinema of Shuswap, British Columbia, regretted to communicate that it cancelled the screening of ‘Unplanned’ denouncing the harassment and threats suffered by the management of the place.
“We have a history of showing things from a variety of points of view … we try not to exclude things because of personal opinions that may exist on our board or things like that,” explained Chris Papworth, board member of the Salmar Theatres Community Association.
“Here it’s different (…) there was an effort to disclose personal information about employees, particularly the general manager, on social networks and then encourage people to pursue them as responsible for some heinous act,” Papworth explained in a dialogue with local media Kelowna Capital News.
“We’re just not prepared for those levels of hostility toward our general manager,” he lamented.
As a security measure, the film’s producers have now removed from their Web site the list of 46 Canadian cinemas that will screen Unplanned on July 12, Chuck Konzelman, the film’s writer, producer and director, along with Cary Solomon, told LifeSiteNews.
The news portal also noted that another Canadian owner of an independent cinema “was harassed to the extreme.”
McKelvie said the death threats are directed at independent cinemas because pressure on larger movie chains, such as Cineplex or Landmark, “got nowhere.”
“It’s unfortunate that it has come to that,” McKelvie added.
“It’s just a movie. The subject is certainly a controversial one. But it’s just a movie,” he said.
The pastor criticized those ‘pro-abortion’ sectors that defend their position with the argument that women should be given the freedom to choose whether or not they want to have a child, and then threaten cinemas to censure a film.
“I think it’s ironic, they talk about choice but they don’t give people the option of going to see the film,” he said.
Meanwhile, thousands of Canadians await the premiere of “Unplanned.”
“It’s time for Canadians to see what Abby experienced that changed her life,” said Jeff Gunnarson, president of the conservative Campaign Life Coalition, in an email to supporters quoted by LifeSiteNews.
“It’s very important that we fill these cinemas,” he said.