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Universal Cancels ‘The Hunt’ Amid Mass Shootings and Trump Attack

The Craig Zobel-directed Blumhouse thriller has been yanked by the studio.

Betty Gilpin in "The Hunt"

Betty Gilpin in “The Hunt”

Universal Pictures

Universal Pictures has canceled the release of director Craig Zobel’s upcoming Blumhouse thriller “The Hunt.” The writing was on the walls when President Donald Trump alluded to the film in one of his latest tweetstorms, in which he fired off at “liberal Hollywood.”

An adaptation of Richard Connell’s 1924 classic man-versus-nature story “The Most Dangerous Game,” the film drops 12 American strangers in a clearing, rudderless and unaware that they’re being, literally, hunted for sport by one-percent elitists. Universal had previously put the brakes on marketing the film in the wake of recent mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, Dayton, Ohio, and Gilroy, California, as the trailer for the film pivots heavily on gun violence and killing among cast members Emma Roberts, Justin Hartley, Glenn Howerton, Betty Gilpin, and Hilary Swank.

“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,” according to a statement from Universal. “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.”

Allegedly, the screenplay described the Americans who are being hunted for sport as “deplorables,” the term made famous by Hillary Clinton during her campaign for the presidency.

This was not an easy decision, and it was made in cooperation with the filmmakers as well as Universal executive leadership, including studio chief Donna Langley. “This decision with the studio and the filmmakers was about making the right choice for right now,” a source close to the film told IndieWire.

Given the nature of the film co-written by “The Leftovers” co-creator Damon Lindelof and Nick Cuse, “The Hunt” is unlikely to see the light of day, at least theatrically. The film was set to open September 27 across the country. The film’s most probable future is to end up streaming once Comcast launches its service, but IndieWire’s source added, “At this time, the only decision that has been made has been to cancel the current release plan.”

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