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Universal Scraps 'The Hunt' Release Following Gun Violence Uproar

The Hollywood Reporter logo The Hollywood Reporter 8/10/2019 Pamela McClintock

Universal has decided to scrap the release of The Hunt — an R-rated satire in which elites hunt "deplorables" for sport — following a series of mass shootings across the country. The film had been set to hit theaters Sept. 27.

The studio's announcement on Saturday came a day after President Donald Trump took aim at the pic — though he didn't identify it by name — and Hollywood, saying on Twitter, "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!"

Even before Trump weighed in, the movie sparked an outcry on social media amid the public anger over gun violence, while networks entered into the conversation when ESPN pulled an ad for the film that it had previously cleared. Subsequently, Universal pulled all its spots.

"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 Saturday's statement. "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 violent movie from producer Jason Blum's Blumhouse Productions follows a dozen individuals who wake up in a clearing and realize they are being stalked for sport by elite liberals.

Directed by Craig Zobel, The Hunt was written by Damon Lindelof and Nick Cuse. The movie stars Betty Gilpin and Hilary Swank, representing opposite sides of the political divide.

"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," a studio source said. (NBCUniversal's parent company is Comcast.)

A day after The Hollywood Reporterreported last week that the studio was reevaluating its marketing and overall strategy for the film, the studio officially suspended its marketing campaign.

The trio of recent mass shootings in Ohio, Texas and California, which resulted in over 30 deaths, have reignited the national debate about gun control.

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