Universal Pictures has canceled its plan to release “The Hunt,” a satirical thriller about “elites” hunting self-described “normal people,” amid a series of mass shootings and criticism that the film could increase tensions.
“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,” Universal said in a statement.
The studio already had paused its marketing campaign for the R-rated movie, which was slated for release on Sept. 27. ESPN pulled an ad for the film, prompting Universal to reevaluate its promotional decisions, according to the Hollywood Reporter.
“The Hunt,” directed by Craig Zobel (“Z for Zachariah”) and produced by Blumhouse Productions, follows 12 strangers who are brought to a remote house to be killed for sport. One of the hunted people, however, starts killing the hunters one by one, according to Rotten Tomatoes.
“It’s just business — hunting human beings for sport,” a man says in the trailer, which has since been removed from YouTube.
President Trump chastised Hollywood on Friday and called out an upcoming movie that he said was meant to “inflame and cause chaos.” He appeared to refer to “The Hunt,” which calls the hunted characters “deplorables” and portrays them as gun-carrying white people from conservative-run states.
Conservative media hosts have also criticized the film. Fox News contributor Guy Benson said on air Thursday that the movie is likely to offend a lot of people in light of recent mass shootings in Dayton, Ohio, and El Paso.
“To have a movie, even though it’s satire, that depicts Americans hunting and killing Americans, I think that’s maybe not an image that a lot of people want to see at the moment,” Benson said.
“The Hunt” stars Ike Barinholtz, Betty Gilpin, Emma Roberts and Hilary Swank.
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