The numbers are in, and they don’t lie: things went better than planned for Pure Flix this past weekend.
The faith-based distributor’s movie “Unplanned,” which chronicles the eye-opening experiences of former Planned Parenthood clinic director Abby Johnson, seriously outperformed market expectations.
Saw @UnplannedMovie this weekend. One of the most difficult films I’ve ever seen…but so important. Thank you for giving an honest picture of abortion. And thank you for showing each mom as much a victim as the unborn babies. Lied to and used by the abortion industry. Go see it. pic.twitter.com/0fV4bhji6p
— Karen Kingsbury (@KarenKingsbury) March 31, 2019
On its opening weekend, “Unplanned” battled Cole Sprouse’s “Five Feet Apart,” which barely edged out the pro-life film in total earnings Sunday, according to Box Office Mojo.
“Unplanned” earned $6.1 million at 1,049 venues, more than doubling expectations, which predicted the film earning roughly $3 million this weekend.
— Variety (@Variety) March 31, 2019
The Pure Flix movie made quite a debut despite fighting an uphill battle to publicize its release.
In the days leading up to the film’s premiere, major networks like USA, Lifetime, Hallmark Channel and HGTV refused to sell ads for the movie, which is highly critical of Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest abortion provider.
Outside of Fox News, Pure Flix executives were unable to find any major cable network partners willing to run advertisements for the movie, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
“We were looking to spend money, but they didn’t want to get involved,” said John Sullivan, one of the producers behind “Unplanned.”
Another of the film’s producers, Joe Knopp, said, “Most of the networks didn’t go into detail beyond citing the subject matter of the film and that they didn’t want to get into politics. But we don’t believe we’re in the political category.”
That was not the first difficulty Pure Flix faced in releasing “Unplanned.”
A few months ago, the MPAA slapped the movie with an R rating, which filmmakers claimed would chase away their target demographic: Christians. It also put Pure Flix executives in the uncomfortable position of having to promote their first-ever R-rated film.
“Ironically,” the filmmakers told Movieguide, “the MPAA seems to be indirectly endorsing the pro-life position: namely, that abortion is an act of violence.”
During an interview last month with Faithwire, “Unplanned” director Chuck Konzelman said the movie was made “for such a time as this,” noting the series of pro-abortion laws that have been advanced in several states across the country.
“We couldn’t have foreseen the rapid developments that are suddenly coming to a head,” he said, “but we serve a God who could, and did.”