Following the pulling of advertisements promoting the controversial thriller, “The Hunt” in the wake of both the Dayton and El Paso mass shootings, Universal Pictures announced today they are canceling the release of the provocative drama altogether. “The Hunt” comes from filmmaker Craig Zobel, co-writer Damon Lindelof (“Lost,” “Prometheus,” HBO’s upcoming “Watchmen”re-imagining) and producer Jason Blum of the esteemed horror/thriller production house Blumhouse Pictures (“The Purge,” “Get Out,” “Us“).
The film follows twelve strangers who mysteriously wake up in a clearing, unaware of how they got there. They soon discover that they have been chosen to be hunted in a game devised by a group of rich elites. Aka, it’s sort of a riff on “The Most Dangerous Game,” a famous 1930s film where rich, bored people hunt human beings for sport, but obviously with a socio-political twist that’s a little too hot-topic-relevant for today apparently.
Universal released a statement today which reads as follows:
“While Universal Pictures had already paused the marketing campaign for The Hunt, after thoughtful consideration, the studio has decided to cancel our plans to release the film. We stand by our filmmakers and will continue to distribute films in partnership with bold and visionary creators, like those associated with this satirical social thriller, but we understand that now is not the right time to release this film.”
“The Hunt” had been scheduled for a late September release this year, but now it’s been shelved seemingly indefinitely. The question remains, what will Blumhouse Pictures do about this if anything at all? Universal clearly owns the movie. Will they let another studio buy it or give it back to Blumhouse to do what they like with it? All of the remains very unclear and it’s very possible, Universal will do nothing and bury the film. At least for now.
The news isn’t entirely unexpected given the Fox News narrative that’s quickly formed around the film. While the world deplorables is never once used in the trailer, that hasn’t stopped Fox from their form of extrapolation and claiming the movie “depicts deplorables being hunted for sport” and politicizing the film further. One suspects, Fox and the right-wing media running with the story had something to do with the decision, at least in part. While not calling out the movie by name, Donald Trump had parroted their complaints in his recent galaxy-brained comments when he claimed Hollywood was “racist.”
“The Hunt” stars Ike Barinholtz, Betty Gilpin, Emma Roberts, and Hilary Swank. Blumhouse or the filmmakers have yet to release a statement, but one has to imagine that’s only minutes away and we’ll update this piece if/when they arrive. Incidentally, Universal has pulled all official versions of “The Hunt” trailer that they published to YouTube (and presumably social media), but versions from other publications still exist, see below.