Universal Pictures canceled the release of Blumhouse's violent, R-rated movie The Hunt, a satire in which rich people hunt "deplorables," after last weekend's mass shootings in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio. The decision also came a day after President Trump appeared to be criticizing the movie without naming it in comments made to reporters and on Twitter. Universal already pulled marketing for the Hilary Swank-starring movie.
The Hunt was scheduled to be released on Sept. 27.
"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," the studio said in a statement to The Hollywood Reporter. "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 movie was produced by Jason Blum's Blumhouse Productions and was written by Damon Lindelof and Nick Cuse. Craig Zobel, who previously directed Z for Zachariah and episodes of The Leftovers, directed the film.
In The Hunt, 12 red-state strangers wake up only to realize they are being hunted by liberal elites. GLOW star Betty Gilpin and Oscar-winner Swank played women on opposite sides politically and are hunting each other.
Earlier this week, Universal pulled all ads for the movie, after ESPN dropped a commercial for the movie. On Friday, Trump made comments about Hollywood without naming a specific movie, leading many to assume he was talking about The Hunt.
"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," Trump wrote. "They create their own violence, and then try to blame others. They are the true Racists, and are very bad for our Country!"
A studio source told The Hollywood Reporter it was The Hunt's filmmakers who decided not to release it.
"This was a decision that the studio came to with The Hunt filmmaking team, but ultimately it was about making the right decision, right now. It was a tough call for the company, but studio leadership, led by Donna Langley, all agreed that this film could wait," the source said.
Swank appeared at the Locarno Film Festival Saturday, where she said she would not be talking about The Hunt.
"No one's seen the film. You can't really have a conversation about it without understanding what it's about," the actress said, reports Variety.0comments
Last weekend, 22 people were killed at an El Paso Walmart and nine others were killed during a shooting in Dayton, Ohio. On July 28, three people were killed at the Gilroy Garlic Festival in Gilroy, California.
Photo credit: YouTube/Universal Pictures