This week, the CEO of Cineplex Entertainment, the theater company in Canada showing the pro-life movie “Unplanned,” gave the film’s protesters a quick primer on the freedom of speech.
Supporters of the Pure Flix movie campaigned in June for Cineplex to show the film, which chronicles the real-life story of former Planned Parenthood executive turned pro-life activist Abby Johnson. At the time, the company chose not to air “Unplanned” because it lacked a distributor.
But now, after weeks of pressure, Cineplex CEO Ellis Jacob said Monday the theater company will, for one week, screen the faith-based movie in 14 of its nearly 1,700 auditoriums across Canada.
What else did he say?
Jacob offered those protesting the movie a quick lesson in free speech and the importance of protecting it.
“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 would want to live in,” Jacob wrote, noting he is “confident” in his decision.
While he acknowledged it was the right choice for Cineplex, Jacob did admit the “decision to move forward with screenings of this particular film was a complicated one and it was not made easily or lightly.”
In addition, Jacob pointed out that, when he migrated to Canada in 1969, what he loved most about the country was the fact its citizens “don’t shy away from our differences,” but instead “embrace them.”
“I understand and appreciate the concerns about the film,” he went on to write, “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.”
What else is going on?
Much like pro-abortion groups in the U.S. have lambasted the film, The Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada has claimed, according to CBC, that “Unplanned” is “a dangerous piece of anti-abortion propaganda” that “could incite fanatics to commit acts of harassment or violence against clinics or doctors.”
Ironically, though, it’s not the pro-life crowd causing theaters to shut down screenings of the Pure Flix movie due to threats.
CTV News reported Salmar Theaters in Salmon Arm, British Columbia, has had to cancel its five-day screening of “Unplanned” because its staff members have received threats. And management at The Movie Mill in Lethbridge, Alberta, plans to beef up security during the screening following “a vocal negative opposition” and “multiple” protests.
“In light of this, we are hiring additional security for the opening weekend just to err on caution,” Leonard Binning, president of The Movie Mill, Inc., wrote in an email to reporters.
As for Cineplex, Jacob’s decision to debut the movie in a very limited number of auditoriums has prompted the Twitter hashtag #boycottCineplex.
It’s worth noting, however, that Ashley Bratcher, who plays Johnson in the pro-life movie, which first debuted in the U.S. in late March, commended Cineplex for showing “Unplanned.”