The controversial film, The Hunt – which depicts rich liberals hunting down and killing supporters of President Donald Trump – was pulled by Universal Pictures after backlash due to the El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, mass shootings that left more than 30 dead.
Fox News first announced last week that it was notified about the decision to – at least – postpone the film’s release, slated for next month.
“Universal Pictures has canceled the September 27 release of the controversial movie, The Hunt, in the wake of significant backlash over the film that depicts privileged vacationers hunting ‘deplorables’ for sport,” Fox News revealed. “NBC’s Universal Pictures – which shares parent company Comcast with NBC News and MSNBC – told Fox News on Wednesday that the movie’s marketing campaign would be ‘temporarily paused’ on the heels of the tragic mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, Dayton, Ohio, and Gilroy, California.”
The “temporary pause” turned into an outright cancellation over the weekend.
“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,” a spokesperson for Universal Pictures declared in a statement released to Fox News on Saturday.
Even though some rumors have claimed the evocative film glorifies or condones killing those on the political right, a number of conservative media outlets familiar with the movie contend that it takes the tone of sympathy toward Trump supporters.
As hatred and violence dominate the mainstream media’s news coverage, President Donald Trump actually expressed support for not releasing the film, believing that it could incite more mayhem, which could have influenced the ultimate cancellation. But one right-leaning media hub wasn’t thrilled about the decision, given that the film reportedly promotes empathy for the conservatives being hunted down.
“For once, a genre movie was built around an anti-progressive premise,” the conservative news source, National Review, asserted. “The Hunt … at least sounded contrarian, but our film-critic-in-chief got it cancelled. President Trump doesn’t have the most finely tuned irony gauge; he seemed unable to understand that the globalists in the film are plainly the bad guys and that the trailer was satirizing – rather than saluting – the hunters it portrays. We weren’t meant to see events from their point of view, but we're to put ourselves in Deplorable shoes. For once, a major Hollywood film studio was about to release a movie sympathetic to Trump voters.”
Because of the film’s subject matter, however, both Fox News and Trump felt compelled to oppose its release, with the president actually taking to Twitter to promote its cancellation.
“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 tweeted Friday. “They create their own violence, and then try to blame others. They are the true Racists, and are very bad for our Country!”
With Universal being owned by NBC, the president believed the film’s intent was to promote the hunting down of conservatives - but it is commonly argued that, ironically, sentiment in the film leans toward those on the right, which many haven’t figured out yet. Consequently, the future of the movie is still in limbo.
“I was on Dana Perino’s show to explain the erroneous thinking on Friday, but on Saturday, Universal announced it was ‘cancelling’ the film’s release,” National Review’s Kyle Smith wrote. “In the fine print, it became evident that the studio hasn’t figured out what to do yet, so it may just delay the film a bit. It didn’t announce that it intended to sell the film, and it didn’t say The Hunt would never see the light of day.”
Universal is apparently still determined to get the movie out in the near future – when the shootings are no longer in the spotlight.
“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 Comcast- and NBC-owned movie studios declared, according to Fox News.
Familiar story line
A little background information on the film was provided by Fox.
“The movie featured Betty Gilpin and Oscar-winner Hilary Swank, was written by Nick Cuse and Damon Lindelof and directed by Craig Zobel,” Fox News’ Jessica Napoli noted.“It was billed as a satirical take on wealthy liberal thrill-seekers taking a private jet to a five-star resort where they embark on a ‘deeply rewarding’ expedition that involves hunting down and killing designated humans – those designated humans being ‘MAGA types’ …”
Fox deferred to a famous Hollywood publication for more information about “Make America Great Again” characters being target practice for liberal elites.
“Nothing better than going out to the Manor and slaughtering a dozen deplorables," one character in the movie insists, according to The Hollywood Reporter (THR).
Background about the “deplorables” term and the film’s original title was also provided.
“The term was originally coined by Hillary CIinton during the 2016 election as a derogatory reference to Trump supporters,” Napoli explained. “The movie was reportedly going to be called, Red State vs. Blue State, at first.”
A more detailed synopsis of the film and its roots was also offered by National Review.
“The producer, Jason Blum, recycling his own The Purge films – on which ultra-white country-club jerks backed by Tea-party-type evangelicals go on killing sprees to hunt down struggling Americans and people of color – has given the formula a little tweak,” Smith informed. “In his new film … the rich hunters are private-jet-loving Davos globalists who hate the president and are out to kill ‘deplorables.” The [Red State vs. Blue State] title proved a bit too interesting, so it was toned down to The Hunt.”
The brutal nature of the film was also explored.
“TV spots and trailers showed roaming gangs of posh urban TED-talk goers heading out on safari to shoot members of Trump-voting blocs,” Smith added.
One Hollywood executive who read the film’s script described the movie.
“The idea seemed crazy,” the Hollywood insider shared with THR.“The blue-state characters – some equally adept with firearms – explain that they picked their targets because they expressed anti-choice positions or used [a racist word] on Twitter. ‘War is war,’ says one character after shoving a stiletto heel through the eye of a denim-clad hillbilly. The globalists in the movie say things like, ‘Did anyone see what our [expletive]-in-chief just did?’ -- to which another replies, ‘At least the Hunt’s coming up. Nothing better than going out to the Manor and slaughtering a dozen deplorables.’”
Another conservative take on the film was also offered, showing how it was converted into a politicized version of a previous film.
“Many production studios have tried to do their version of the Japanese film, Battle Royale – the controversial 2000 film [that] details a disciplinary program enacted by the government to deal with disobedient youth in a dystopic future where the economy has collapsed,” Townhall reported. “Students are dropped onto an island where there are only two rules: 1. Kill your friends 2. Be the last one standing. With The Hunt, it took a more political tone – wealthy liberals hunt so-called deplorables for sport.”
The film was portrayed as not being Oscar-winning material, as the genre of the film has reportedly placed it in the category of sub-par films, in terms of quality.
“[I]t’s not like this was a must-see film, and I doubt that even the most ardent anti-Trump voter wasn’t going to spend the $13 or so to see it in theaters,” Townhall’s Matt Vespa ventured. “These films – with the exception of Royale – just aren’t very good. The plot has been done before or you’ve seen some iteration of it.”
The conservative journalist believes the freedom of expression trumped the demand of those wanting to pull the movie.
“I’m a bit disappointed – I don’t like banning things, and I think conservatives needed to chill the outrage machine on this; there are much, much bigger fish to fry,” Vespa argued. “It should shock us that some liberals want us dead – that’s the Left in 2020. We’ll deal with it by re-electing Trump."
"I don’t mean to channel Obama’s ‘don’t boo, vote’ mantra on this, but let’s get a grip," Vespa concluded. "We’re America, and not China, because we can produce and release anything we want. It’s free expression and this film should remind us to do one thing next year: Vote Republican. Other than that, keep your powder dry for when something really goes off the rails in the news cycle.”