Universal Pictures has officially decided not to release the upcoming horror/thriller The Hunt this September. The studio had previously stopped running any sort of advertising for the Blumhouse Productions release in the wake of the recent string of mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, Dayton, Ohio, and Gilroy, California. Now, the studio has announced they're pulling the plug altogether, leaving the movie's future uncertain. Universal had this to say in a statement.
"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."
Controversy surrounding The Hunt, which had been set to arrive in theaters on September 27, sprang up following the recent mass shootings, which left dozens dead and many more injured. The movie centers on a group of strangers who wake up to realize they are being hunted for sport by a group of affluent, rich liberals. The inherent violence and political undertones contained within the movie's premise and marketing campaign came under fire and Universal began to rethink its strategy, ultimately deciding to shelve the project in definitely.
Another key factor seems to be criticism from President Donald Trump. Recently, Trump, without specifically naming The Hunt, appeared to be taking aim at the movie and, moreover, liberals in Hollywood. Taking to Twitter, Trump had this to say.
"Liberal Hollywood is Racist at the highest level, and with great Anger and Hate! They like to call themselves 'Elite,' but they are not Elite. In fact, it is often the people that they so strongly oppose that are actually the Elite. The movie coming out is made in order to inflame and cause chaos. They create their own violence, and then try to blame others. They are the true Racists, and are very bad for our Country!"
Blumhouse Productions is known for producing low-budget horror movies that very regularly go on to earn big dollars at the box office. While the budget may have been relatively low, the production costs coupled with the marketing spend means that Universal will be taking a sizable loss by opting not to release The Hunt. Though, it's possible the studio could opt to release the movie down the line. Or, they could also opt to release it on a streaming service, but that likely wouldn't be for some time.
The cast for the The Hunt includes Betty Gilpin (Glow), Hilary Swank (Million Dollar Baby), Emma Roberts (American Horror Story), Glenn Howerton (It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia), Ike Barinholtz (Suicide Squad) and Macon Blair (Green Room). Craig Zobel (Compliance) is the director, with the script coming from Nick Cuse (The Leftovers) and Damon Lindelof (Lost). This news was previously reported by The Hollywood Reporter.