Rexburg was third in the nation for ticket sales of The Abolitionists premiere Monday, May 16, prompting an encore screening of the film, according to O.U.R. Idaho Rescue.
Paramount 5 in Rexburg is the only theater approved in the U.S. to show the encore which will take place on Thursday, May 26 at 7:30 p.m., according to O.U.R. Idaho Rescue.
Matt Smith, president and founder of the Prosperity Project, said he was grateful for the success of The Abolitionists premiere, especially in Rexburg, because when it comes to child sex trafficking, awareness is the first step.
“We had 808 people come here in Rexburg and 750 in Idaho Falls,” Smith said. “In Idaho Falls, they had to call in more people to staff the event.”
CaRynn Harris, co-president of the local Anti Human Trafficking Community Club and a freshman studying political science, said The Abolitionists was the second-best-performing movie in the country for ticket sales that night.
“We were second only to Captain America: Civil War,” Harris said. “We probably would have surpassed them, considering The Abolitionists had fewer theaters showing it.”
Ross Baron, a professor in the Department of Religious Education, said he saw The Abolitionists during the premiere and would recommend everyone to see the encore.
“All students, all people, all concerned citizens, all caring parents, grandparents, public officials and anyone who I have not thought of should see this movie,” Baron said. “Not only should they see it and process it, but they should take action.”
Baron said child sex slavery and trafficking is as much an issue around the world today as slavery was in America during the Civil War.
“We like to believe that we would have stood up, spoken out against slavery and done something about it,” Baron said. “The movie lets us know what is happening and is a call to action.”
Smith said the next step in the fight against child sex trafficking is to attend the AHTCC meetings on the second floor of Madison Memorial Hospital at 7 p.m. on the second and fourth Wednesday of each month.
“The more people we have there, the better our creativity pool is and the more success we end up having,” Smith said. “That’s my motivation: to get many people and many hands there.”
Smith said the work that happens at the AHTCC meetings at Madison Memorial Hospital are linked to Operation Underground Railroad and the Prosperity Project, and so the most important step people can take is to come to these meetings.
“In the Prosperity Project, we have partnered with Operation Underground Railroad and AHTCC in going after the rescue and providing trauma therapy to the kids,” Smith said. “We do service missions to Haiti, and soon we will be in the Dominican Republic to provide trauma therapy.”
Smith said they will be going to where the children live and improving the standard of living in the orphanages.
“I’m also trying to bring over a medical team once a month, either a physician or some nurses,” Smith said. “Those remaining spots are for us normal folks going and working on projects for the orphanages.”
Kristy Virgin, a community volunteer, said people should be passionate in this cause because everyone has a responsibility to the children of the world.
“These are children of God, and we have a duty to help them,” Virgin said. “We are responsible to help those children and not turn our eyes and our hearts and minds away.”
Virgin said people need to stop thinking that the experts can take care of this, because the experts are just volunteers who want to help.
“We are the experts,” Virgin said.