Director Craig Zobel has finally broken his silence regarding The Hunt. The controversial movie, which was produced by Blumhouse Productions, is finished, was being actively marketed and was set to be released next month by Universal Pictures. However, in the wake of the recent mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, the release was canceled. Now, Zobel has spoken up about it.

While critics didn't have the chance to screen The Hunt, it's a politically-charged, violent movie about wealthy, allegedly liberal elitist types, hunting down working-class, conservative individuals for sport. The script was penned by Nick Cuse and Damon Lindelof (The Leftovers). In a recent interview, Craig Zobel had this to say.

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"If I believed this film could incite violence, I wouldn't have made it... Our ambition was to poke at both sides of the aisle equally. We seek to entertain and unify, not enrage and divide. It is up to the viewers to decide what their takeaway will be."

President Trump had been vocally critical of the movie ahead of its scheduled release. The violence depicted in the movie, coupled with the potential political uproar, ultimately led to the studio deciding it was best not to release it at this time. Craig Zobel stood by Universal's decision, but states further he intended to entertain and satirize.

"I wanted to make a fun, action thriller that satirized this moment in our culture, where we jump to assume we know someone's beliefs because of which 'team' we think they're on... and then start shouting at them. This rush to judgment is one of the most relevant problems of our time."

The recent mass shootings that took place on August 3 and 4 left more than 30 people dead and many others injured. Following the shootings, Universal stopped actively marketing The Hunt. While some reports have stated test screenings for the movie went poorly, with others stating it had previously been titled Red State Vs. Blue State, a representative for Universal Pictures has set the record straight.

"While some outlets have indicated that test screenings for 'The Hunt' resulted in negative audience feedback; in fact, the film was very well-received and tallied one of the highest test scores for an original Blumhouse film. Additionally, no audience members in attendance at the test screening expressed discomfort with any political discussion in the film. While reports also say 'The Hunt' was formerly titled 'Red State vs. Blue State,' that was never the working title for the film at any point throughout the development process, nor appeared on any status reports under that name."

The cast for the movie includes Betty Gilpin, Hilary Swank, Emma Roberts, Glenn Howerton, Ike Barinholtz and Macon Blair. Blumhouse Productions head Jason Blum recently expressed his desire to see The Hunt released at a later date, but it's unclear if that would happen, and even less clear when it would be. This news comes to us via Variety.

Ryan Scott at Movieweb
Ryan Scott