A controversial film is still coming to Kelowna despite being pulled by Landmark Grand 10.
The Kelowna Right to Life Society is hosting its own private showings of Unplanned, the true story of a Planned Parenthood clinic director who becomes an anti-abortion activist, in a rented out theatre—at the Landmark Grand 10.
“Initially it was going to show for one week at the Grand 10. They pulled that,” said Marlon Bartram, executive director at the Kelowna Right to Life Society. “[It’s a] private showing, but I can sell to anybody in town.”
Two private showings are set for the film, one in Kelowna at the Grand 10 on July 15 (tickets on sale July 9 at 6 p.m.), and an already sold-out showing in West Kelowna at the Xtreme 8 on July 17.
The film is garnering a lot of attention from both pro-life and pro-choice groups, resulting in cancellations of the movie across the country.
Cineplex showing the movie in 14 of its 164 theatres and Landmark is showing it in seven.
Salmon Arm’s Salmar Theatre pulled its five-day run of the film after allegedly receiving threats to its staff.
“We have a track record of showing things from a variety of points of view… we try not to preclude things because of whatever personal opinions may exist on our board or something like that,” explained Salmar Community Association board member Chris Papworth. “What’s different here… certainly, in the past, there hasn’t been an effort to dox employees or, specifically, the general manager, by releasing their personal information on social media and then encouraging people to go after them as the one responsible for some heinous act.
“We just aren’t prepared for those levels of hostility towards our general manager.”
Landmark Cinemas Canada had initially planned on showing the movie for a five-day run in 10 of its theatres across the country but scaled back to just seven.
“There’s a lot of vocal voices on this issue,” said Bill Walker, CEO of Landmark Cinemas Canada. “We certainly heard from many of those and are having conversations with some. We’re trying to support people who are really passionate about the content and want to see the movie—and through these private rentals, they can do that.
Walker admits that these private screenings are a little different than the usual process in which an organized group that commits to buying a certain amount of tickets for a private screening to just that group.
“Typically, those tickets would not be resold. In this particular venue, we’re not going to stop them from selling the tickets to the audience they’re connected with who want to see the film. In this case, the Right to Life Society in Kelowna is promoting those showtimes for people who want to come to see the movie. The public will, in this case, certainly be aware that the show is going on.
“I’ve been working in the movie industry for eight years, and I’ve never seen a movie quite like this.”
Walker added that he hopes patrons of the theatre can leave the politics out of what should be just another night out to the movies; not a place for a heated argument.
“My hope is that as a public we realize its a theatre and this issue won’t be debated among movie-goers,” Walker said. “For the one screen that’s playing [Unplanned], which people chose to come to see and enjoy their movie experience, there are nine other auditoriums that are just families going to see Spiderman. We’re not trying to be a venue for political debate.”