Death threats and negative test screenings were some of the main reasons Universal decided to pull The Hunt. The studio had previously planned on keeping the September 27th release date, even after pausing the promotional campaign following the deadly mass shootings in El Paso, Gilroy, and Dayton. The political thriller was already starting to get some backlash from critics with President Donald Trump leading the charge by weighing in on the situation. Trump blasted The Hunt on social media, declaring it was only being released to "inflame and cause chaos", though he never did specifically name the title of the movie in question.

After the recent mass shootings, "Universal executives and the filmmakers began receiving death threats via email and on social media and immediately paused the campaign altogether," according to sources. The studio's decision to pump the brakes on the marketing for The Hunt was a wise one considering the trailers and TV spots showed humans hunting other humans with guns. At the time, the studio still intended to put the controversial movie out into theaters.

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However, the studio did not expect the controversy surrounding The Hunt to get so big. The second test screening for the movie, which revolves around a dozen "deplorables" being hunted by the wealthy elite, found audience members "were again expressing discomfort with the politics of the Jason Blum-produced film." If that wasn't enough, Fox News turned their attention towards The Hunt and started running around-the-clock coverage of their outrage, which is where Donald Trump learned about the now-canceled movie. Things got out of hand pretty fast and the studio needed to do something about the $18 million movie they had produced and they had to do it quick.

The political climate in the United States seems to be more divisive than ever as liberals and conservatives battle it out on a daily and almost hourly basis. The Trump administration is anything but what we have come to expect from the White House, which is what supporters like about it. However, Universal's decision to put out a movie like The Hunt at this time seems like an unwise choice, even before the recent deadly mass shootings. With that being said, it is a social commentary and the controversy surrounding it is basically proving its own point without even getting released in theaters.

Sources say Universal was reluctant to pull the plug on The Hunt, originally titled Red State vs. Blue State, over opinions from people who never even saw the movie. But, it was the recent mass shootings that swayed their decision to finally cancel the release. Blumhouse is known for making low budget projects for Universal, which go on to make money at the box office. The Hunt will instead be an $18 million+ loss for the studio when all is said and done. The Hollywood Reporter was the first to announce the reasoning behind The Hunt cancellation.

Kevin Burwick at Movieweb
Kevin Burwick