Unplanned: The Surprise Success of a Pro-Life Movie

The new movie Unplanned opened last Friday, and it tells the story of Abby Johnson, a former Planned Parenthood clinic director who became a pro-life advocate after witnessing an abortion procedure. Abby’s story is compelling, but the movie faced several obstacles leading up to opening day. Several media outlets such as HGTV and the Hallmark Channel refused to air advertisements for the movie, which could have impacted its opening weekend crowd.

Instead, the movie surpassed expectations, coming in 4th place over the weekend, behind big-budget films Dumbo and Captain Marvel. The film cost $6 million to make (as opposed to $170 million for Dumbo) but brought in more than $6 million in its opening weekend alone.

“We’re very, very happy,” co-writer and director Chuck Konzelman told Drew Mariani this week on The Drew Mariani Show™ . “I mean, the final number is close to $6.4 million we found out. And they really didn’t expect that we would even show up. So we doubled their expectation.”

Asked why the movie experienced such resistance leading up to opening day, despite large turn-outs in theaters, Konzelman’s co-writer and co-director Cary Solomon said, “I think this movie represents an existential threat to Planned Parenthood. We’re already seeing this, it’s effects out in the real world. … What so blows my mind more than anything else is that we have had hundreds, thousands of pro-choice people say ‘I’m now pro-life.’ That’s unbelievable.”

Abby Johnson also stopped by The Drew Mariani Show this week, and shared what it is like to have her life’s story made into a movie.

“It’s very surreal. I mean, it’s seeing your life up on the screen,” she said. “And there’s definitely a vulnerability there. But I didn’t agree to do this to make Abby Johnson a household name. I agreed to do this because I really want God’s grace, and His forgiveness, and His radical mercy that is available to everyone – I want that to be what’s known in every single household across this world. And this is how you do it. You do it by converting hearts. You change the culture. Not just by laws, but by conversion of hearts. And that’s what this film is doing. Thanks be to God, it’s just amazing to watch.”

And just as Abby’s work with her non-profit And Then There Were None seeks to help abortion workers like her leave the industry, Unplanned is a movie that aims to not just preach to the choir, but to change hearts, minds, and lives.

“This film is for everybody. And God’s healing and forgiveness is for everybody,” Abby said. “One of our current clients who worked in the industry actually ended up reaching back to some of her friends that she used to work with and said, ‘I’m going to go watch this movie. I’ll buy your ticket if you want to go with me.’ So she ended up bringing three of her former co-workers who still currently work at Planned Parenthood to the film with her. We know that Planned Parenthood employees are watching the film, we know that other abortion industry employees are watching, and we’re just ready with open arms to receive them.”

Listen to the full conversation below:

The Drew Mariani Show airs weekdays from 3:00 – 6:00 p.m. Eastern/noon – 3:00 p.m. Pacific on Relevant Radio® and the Relevant Radio App.

Stephanie Foley serves as a Digital Media Producer at Relevant Radio®. She is a graduate of Franciscan University of Steubenville, where she studied journalism, and she has worked in Catholic radio for 12 years. Stephanie is a wife, a mother of three boys, and in her free time she enjoys reading, running, and really good coffee. You can find more of Stephanie’s writing at relevantradio.com and on the free Relevant Radio mobile app.