Universal Cancels Plans to Distribute “The Hunt”

Controversial thriller had been criticized from across the political spectrum

Still from "The Hunt"
A scene from "The Hunt"
Universal
By Tobias Carroll / August 11, 2019 11:42 am

Last week saw an uproar around the planned release of The Hunt, a film in which wealthy people kidnap Americans and hunt them for sport. This isn’t necessarily a new concept: the short story “The Most Dangerous Game,” about a wealthy man hunting people on a remote island, was first published in 1924 — and the concept has inspired numerous films and televisions shows since then. Some have opted for an even greater political subtext: 1994’s Surviving the Game, starring Ice-T and Rutger Hauer, comes to mind. 

The Hunt was criticized on two fronts: for the abundance of guns featured in its trailer in the wake of a pair of devastating mass shootings; and from Donald Trump, who lashed out at the film on Twitter, saying, “The movie coming out is made in order to inflame and cause chaos.” 

The controversy has now reached its apex, as distributor Universal has announced that it will no longer release the film. The film’s page on Universal’s website now results in an error message, and its trailer has also been removed from YouTube. Universal also issued a statement regarding their cancellation of the film, which concludes with, “we understand that now is not the right time to release this film.”

Writing at Forbes, Scott Mendelson critiqued the decision to pull the film

If Universal pulled the film out of “sensitivity,” then it’s still a scenario where society is apparently more comfortable with Hollywood pulling or delaying movies (Phone Booth) and TV shows (Buffy the Vampire Slayer‘s “Graduation Day part II”) featuring gun violence than they are in crafting laws to lessen real-life gun violence.

The Hunt was directed by Craig Zobel (The Great World of Sound, Z For Zachariah). It was written by Damon Lindelof and Nick Cuse, the son of Lindelof’s Lost co-showrunner Carlton Cuse. Co-producing it was Jason Blum, whose recent work has also included the Showtime miniseries The Loudest Voice, about the rise and fall of Fox News’s Roger Ailes. 

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