On Friday, just as the movie “Gosnell: The Trial of America’s Biggest Serial Killer” was set to open, Facebook was busy trying to limit its publicity.
And talk-radio host Rush Limbaugh was recommending people see it because “the story itself is heart-stopping enough.”
In that apparent faceoff of media titans, Rush Limbaugh won.
The film opened over the weekend as the No. 1 independent film and was No. 8 in per screen averages and No. 12 overall.
“Despite an unprecedented media blackout that found nearly every major film publication refusing to review it, indie film ‘Gosnell: The Trial of America’s Biggest Serial Killer’ surpassed box-office expectations this weekend coming,” the film’s publicist said in a statement.
“Although the film was made available for review, only two major publications, the Los Angeles Times and Forbes chose to review it. Yet in spite of this media boycott, the film performed surprisingly well on nearly 700 screens across the country, with Burbank, California, coming in as the top theater.
“At the time many in the media apologized for failing to cover the Gosnell trial and promised to do better but [now] they are refusing to review a film about the case that is available nationally and has attracted huge social media buzz,” said Ann McElhinney, a screenwriter for the film.
“By refusing to review the film the media are ignoring a historic film about a historic case but also telling 30,000 people their record crowd-funding is not important and doesn’t matter,” Phelim McAleer, who also helped write the screenplay.
“It’s not surprising that no one trusts the media anymore.”
The movie tells the story of Kermit Gosnell, an abortionist convicted on murder charges for killing babies after they were born.
It was financed through a record crowd-funding campaign that raised $2.3 million from 30,000 contributors in just weeks.
The film’s makers went to social media, grass roots marketing, alternative and conservative media to promote their project, apparently with significant success.
“We are not surprised,” said McAleer when informed of the refusal of top publication such as the Hollywood Reporter, Variety, the New York Times, the New York Post, the Associated Press and many others to review the film. “In politics there’s a term for this: voter suppression – a sad attempt to pretend our film isn’t in theaters across America this weekend. But they can’t ignore the box office numbers. We humbly thank all of our fans across the country for this great opening. The people have spoken!”
The Washington Times reported the film did “surprisingly well” on its first weekend.
And the Daily Caller said that while movie watchers gave it a score of 4.9 points out of five, media outlets appeared uninterested.
Gosnell now is serving three life sentences on his 2013 convictions of first-degree murder for killing three babies during botched abortions. He was also convicted of performing illegal late-term abortion procedures.
WND reported Friday McAleer said Facebook’s refusal to promote the film was because company officials “don’t want this film to succeed” because of the broader implications of the story.
“The establishment hates that the truth is getting out there,” the Irish filmmaker told WND at the time.
An attempt to promote the film and trailer through Facebook by paying to “boost” a post with a link to an article published by a mainstream Hollywood publication was denied because it constituted “political speech.”
Limbaugh told his audience: “If you don’t know about Kermit Gosnell, if you’ve not heard the name, if it doesn’t ring a bell, you by all means should see this. If you do know who Gosnell is and if you think you know the story, you should see this.
“You’re not watching a political documentary here. You’re watching a movie portrayal of a real life event, and it’s treated as a real life event, as any other would be, without a lot of political preaching because it’s felt it’s not necessary, and it isn’t.
“The story itself is heart-stopping enough as it is,” he said.