Universal has chosen to cancel the release of their upcoming Blumhouse action-horror film, The Hunt, following the recent mass shootings in the U.S. The news come just weeks before The Hunt was set to release in late September, with the studio’s decision reflecting a wider conversation taking place about depictions of violence – and gun violence in particular – in popular media.
The Hunt is directed by Craig Zobel from a screenplay by Damon Lindelof and Nick Cuse, and features a group of rich elites (led by Hilary Swank) who hunt other people for sport. It stars Betty Gilpin (GLOW) as Crystal, one of the poor folks being used as prey, and sees her fight back as she begins hunting down the elites one by one. A trailer for The Hunt was released earlier this year, but it along with much of the film’s marketing has already been pulled by Universal. Now that it’s been revealed the film itself will no longer be releasing, it’s unclear what the future holds for The Hunt.
Universal’s statement on the matter (below), states that “now is not the right time” to release The Hunt, and while it doesn’t explicitly mention the recent mass shootings in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio, the timing of their decision makes that connection clear. This decision also comes after President Donald Trump recently criticized the film as one that’s sole purpose is “to inflame and cause chaos.” As of now, no word has been given about whether or not The Hunt will be released at a later point in time.
“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 marketing campaign for The Hunt began just days after an earlier deadly shooting at the Gilroy Garlic Festival in California. The shootings in El Paso and Dayton then happened the following week, at which point Universal chose to discontinue any and all marketing for the film out of respect for the victims. The Hunt has also been criticized for how it pits Americans of opposite political persuasions against each other, with some seeing the film’s subject matter as being inappropriate given the tense political climate.
The recent string of mass shootings in America is also creating debate about not just the country’s gun laws but the depiction of guns in media. While some want to keep the discussion squarely on changing laws to prevent these tragedies, others see certain TV shows, movies, and video games as glorifying gun violence and want to limit people’s exposure to them. Universal’s decision, however, may not necessarily be politically motivated, but rather one made to avoid any negative press for their film given the current discussion surrounding guns in the media. And as to whether The Hunt will ever see the light of day? Only time will tell. With all the available streaming and rental options out there, it’s likely Universal will find some way to the release the film – just don’t expect to see it anytime soon.
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