“Unplanned”—the movie of the former Planned Parenthood director joining the pro-life movement nets $6 million its first weekend

By Michael Hernandez 

Local theaters in Oxnard, Thousand Oaks, Simi Valley continue their showing of “Unplanned”—the story of Abby Johnson—the former Planned Parenthood director in Bryan, Texas.  Abby left the Planned Parenthood clinic to join the Coalition for Life—the pro-life local group led by Shawn Carney–that has been protesting abortions outside the $1.8 million clinic in this east Texas city.  It would be out of this same city of 85,000 that 40 Days for Life—the nation’s largest pro-life campaign would originate.

The faith-based film distributor Pure Flix said “Unplanned” net $6.1 million in its release to 1,059 screens.  The film was partially financed by My Pillow founder Mike Lindell, a born-again Christian and Donald Trump supporter.  This is the second-highest opening for a Pure Flix film, only behind the $7.6 million earned for “God’s Not Dead 2.”

Film producers said that a strong opening was not an easy feat since the film was rated R for its graphic scenes and multiple TV networks declined to air spots for the film and the movie’s Twitter page was briefly suspended.  Critics gave the film a 50 percent Rotten Tomatoes score while Christian audiences embraced the film and gave it an A+ on CinemaScore.

“We are very happy for the success of this film,” said Pure Flix CEO Michael Scott in a statement in which he said the movie will expand to 1,700 screens this weekend.   “To bring the story of Abby Johnson to audiences and have them show up in such large numbers shows how the topic of abortion is so important to bring to audiences.  We hope that those on both sides of the debate will see ‘Unplanned’ and begin to have their own dialogue.  This film can be the spark to bring more hearts and minds to understanding the value of life.”

Johnson, the former director of a Planned Parenthood clinic in southeast Texas told Fox News at the time of her resignation that she had quit her job (fall of 2009) and joined a pro-life group in praying outside the facility after she watched a fetus “crumple” as it was vacuumed out of a patient’s uterus.

“When I was working at Planned Parenthood I was extremely pro-choice…but after seeing the internal workings of the procedure for the first time on an ultrasound monitor, “I would say there was a definite conversion in my heart…a spiritual conversion.”

Johnson, 29, who had worked for the clinic eight years, told Fox News that she became disillusioned with her job after her bosses pressured her for months to increase profits by performing more and more abortion which cost patients between $505 and $695.

“Every meeting that we had was, ‘We don’t have enough money—we’ve got to keep those abortions coming.  It’s a very lucrative business and that’s why they want to increase numbers.”

Johnson, who had an Episcopalian upbringing, said the pressure came in personal interactions with her regional manager from the larger Houston office.  She had originally got involved with Planned Parenthood “to help women and…(do) the right thing” and the idea of raking in cash seemed to go against what she felt was the mission of the 93-year-old organization.

Without a doctor in residence, the Bryan clinic offered abortions only two days a month, but the doctor could perform 30 to 40 procedures on each day.  Johnson estimated that each abortion could net the branch about $350, adding up to more than $10,000 a month.

Johnson, who helped facilitate 22,000 abortions before quitting, had been meeting with Shawn Carney, the Coalition For Life executive director, whose offices were down the street and who had been seen outside the Planned Parent clinic helping women find alternatives.

Today, Abby travels sharing her story, educating the public on pro-life issues, advocating for the unborn, and reaching out to abortion clinic staff who still work in the industry.  She is the founder of “And Then There Were None,” a ministry designed to assist abortion clinic workers in transitioning out of the industry.  To date, this ministry has helped over 500 workers leave the abortion industry.  Abby lives in Texas with her husband and eight children.

“Unplanned” is the second anti-abortion movie to have been produced under an assumed title—“Redeemed”—and in secrecy—the first being “Roe. V. Wade,” which resulted in crew members quitting once they learned the movie leaned anti-choice.   However, in the case of “Unplanned” the crew were aware of the content and were primarily in sync with the pro-life message.

“But no matter which side you come down on, there’s a big chunk of this movie that will make you uncomfortable because Abby has been pro-choice and pro-life,” said Chuck Konzelman, who co-wrote and co-directed with Cary Solomon.

The movie is produced by Daryl Lefever, who produced “I Can Only Imagine,” a Christian film that earned $83.4 million on a $7 million budget.

Michael Hernandez, Co-Founder of the Citizens Journal—Ventura County’s online news service, founder of History Makers International—a community nonprofit serving youth and families in Ventura County, is a former Southern California daily newspaper


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