The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) gave the upcoming abortion movie Unplanned an R-rating Friday, citing “some disturbing, bloody images.” But the movie’s filmmakers fear the rating is motivated by politics.
“We made a pro-life movie in a pro-choice town” said Chuck Konzelman, who along with Cary Solomon wrote and directed Unplanned.
For Solomon, the R-rating smacks of hypocrisy. “The standard used to rate our movie is being applied inconsistently as it relates to bloody images on-screen,” he told me in a phone interview. “In fact, Happy Death Day 2U (a “slasher” film with several violent murder scenes) has far more blood and gore than our film and it received a PG-13 rating.”
Indeed, most R-rated films are labelled as such for featuring sexual scenes, profanity, nudity, or violence — all of which Unplanned has none. The filmmakers had hoped for a PG-13 rating.
The film tells the true-life story of former Planned Parenthood clinic director Abby Johnson, who left the abortion giant in 2009 to become a pro-life activist.
The filmmakers told me their movie depicts scenes of Johnson, played by actress Ashley Bratcher, bleeding and vomiting on the floor after taking an abortion pill. The MPAA also objected to scenes showing a doctor looking at images of a fetus after an abortion.
The MPAA told Konzelman and Solomon to either cut the abortion scenes or edit them. “The blood is in no way gratuitous,” Konzelman told me. “For us to not include blood in these critical scenes would be to severely cheapen this true story.”
“We have three scenes in the film which directly address abortion, and the MPAA objected to all three,” Solomon said. “They specifically made mention of objection to grainy, black and white sonogram images that were part of one of the scenes. It was clear that any meaningful treatment of the issue was going to be objectionable.”
An MPAA spokesperson said that the film’s distributor, Pure Flix — the studio behind God’s Not Dead — didn’t respond to the organization’s appeals process in a timely manner. Pure Flix president Michael Scott fired back saying, “This story needs to be told and the message needed to be delivered.”
“It is our calling as Christians to tell the story about the moral implications of abortion that the mainstream media refuses to acknowledge,” Scott said.
Pure Flix is charging ahead and plan to release Unplanned with its R-rating.
“Most Americans believe Hollywood’s God is money. No. Their God is a liberal agenda that they serve without fail. And we are anathema to that,” Solomon said.
Unplanned opens in theaters everywhere on March 29.