In the wake of anti-abortion movie "Unplanned" receiving an R-rating — which the Motion Picture Association of America said was not politically motivated — the filmmakers are disputing the decision, The Hollywood Reporter said.
"Unplanned" — the true story of Abby Johnson, a renowned pro-life activist who once worked for Planned Parenthood — would be the first R-rated movie from distributor Pure Flix Entertainment, known for faith-based and family-friendly films such as "God's Not Dead," the outlet said. "Unplanned" is set for a March 29 release.
Image source: YouTube screenshot
The MPAA told The Hollywood Reporter that the "Unplanned" R-rating was for "some disturbing/bloody images" — and informed the filmmakers that all the abortion scenes must be removed or altered or else the R-rating stays.
"We have three scenes in the film which directly address abortion, and the MPAA objected to all three," Cary Solomon, the movie's co-writer and co-director, told the outlet. "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."
More from The Hollywood Reporter:
The MPAA told Pure Flix that the most problematic scene featured a doctor gazing at a computer screen that shows the image of a fetus as the abortion is completed. The doctor in the scene is real-life Dr. Anthony Levatino, who says he has performed about 1,200 abortions over the years.
"The portrayal of a live, moving fetus disappearing is very accurate," Levatino said. "You're watching an abortion. It's an accurate view of what's happening. It's disturbing if you recognize it's a human life."
An R-rating means those under 17 years of age can't watch "Unplanned" without a parent or adult guardian, and the filmmakers and Pure Flix told the outlet there's no profanity, nudity, violence, drug abuse, or anything typically associated with an R-rating.
"A 15-year old girl can get an abortion without her parent's permission, but she can't see this movie without adult supervision? That's sad," Ken Rather, Pure Flix executive vice president, told the outlet.
The Hollywood Reporter said the MPAA's ratings process involves a board of about 10 people from all walks of life — all of whom have children — voting and debating until they come to a majority agreement.
"Any film submitter who objects to the given rating can choose to go through the appeals process. To date, the distributor has chosen not to," an MPAA spokesperson told the outlet regarding the "Unplanned" R-rating. "Our rules provide a detailed timeline for the appeals process. There was sufficient time for it to be completed in advance of the film's March 29 release."
How did the filmmakers react?
The MPAA's R-rating prompted "Unplanned" filmmakers to complain to MPAA CEO Charles Rivkin, The Hollywood Reporter said.
"We consider the MPAA's current standards to be deeply flawed, insofar as they allow scenes of remarkably graphic sex, violence, degradation, murder and mayhem to have a PG-13 rating, whereas our film, highlighting the grave dangers of abortion in a straightforward manner, is considered dangerous for the American people to view," Solomon and fellow co-writer and co-director Chuck Konzelman wrote in a letter to Rivkin, the outlet added.
But the filmmakers aren't changing a thing, The Hollywood Reporter noted, and Pure Flix won't appeal the R-rating due to concern that such a process — which rarely works out for petitioners — would delay distribution.
"This story needs to be told, and the message needed to be delivered," PureFlix president Michael Scott told the outlet. "It is our calling as Christians to tell the story about the moral implications of abortion that the mainstream media refuses to acknowledge."
Here's how TheBlaze's Steve Deace responded:
Check out this trailer for "Unplanned":