Rest easy, Trump supporters! Hollywood has decided not to distribute a film about liberals hunting “deplorables” — not yet, anyway. It seems Hollywood is reserving the right to release it later, however, since the problem with the film has less to do with the content and more to do with the timing, according to a spokesperson for Universal.
“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 Universal spokesperson told Variety. “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.”
Notice how Universal did not condemn the basic premise of the film — it only said “now is not the right time” to release it. In fact, the company pledged to “stand by our filmmakers” and to continue to partner with “bold and visionary creators, like those associated with this satirical social thriller.”
In other words, Universal had no problems distributing a film featuring politically-motivated violence — the company just had second thoughts about releasing it now, soon after the tragic mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio. The Hunt was scheduled to hit theaters on September 27.
Did anyone see what our ratf**ker-in-chief just did?” one character asks early in the screenplay for The Hunt, a Universal Pictures thriller set to open Sept. 27. Another responds: “At least The Hunt’s coming up. Nothing better than going out to the Manor and slaughtering a dozen deplorables.”
In the aftermath of mass shootings within days of one another that shocked and traumatized the nation, Universal is re-evaluating its strategy for the certain-to-be-controversial satire. The violent, R-rated film from producer Jason Blum’s Blumhouse follows a dozen MAGA types who wake up in a clearing and realize they are being stalked for sport by elite liberals.
The original title for the film was Red State Vs. Blue State, so the political themes are undeniable. While the movie “made some executives at Universal skittish,” the company acquired it anyway after other studios “did not pursue it because of the explosive premise.” Jason Blum, the film’s producer, also produced other well-known horror flicks like The Purge, Paranormal Activity, and Get Out.
The left-leaning fact-checking website Snopes faulted Margolis for working on “unconfirmed” details, insisting that the official description of The Hunt does not explicitly state that the film is about liberals hunting Trump supporters. Yet when Snopes reached Universal, the studio did not explicitly deny the report from The Hollywood Reporter. The company’s decision to pull the film only seems to confirm a growing sense that The Hunt is improper.
Yet the Universal statement on the cancellation left a great deal to be desired.
Let’s be clear: filmmakers who produce a movie about liberals hunting conservatives for sport in cold blood are not “visionary.” Would a film glorifying the shooting at the Family Research Council (FRC) in 2012 be “visionary”? Would a film glorifying the Congressional Baseball Game shooting in 2017 — which almost killed Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.) — be “visionary”?
The FRC shooter told the FBI he was inspired by liberal activism — the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) accusing FRC of being an “anti-LGBT hate group.” The Congressional Baseball Game shooter had targeted Republicans, supported Bernie Sanders, and “liked” the SPLC on Facebook.
Violent activists who call themselves anti-fascist or “antifa” wear masks to hide their faces and physically harass Trump supporters. After antifa activists physically assaulted the openly gay Asian man Andy Ngo, there have been calls for the U.S. to designate antifa a terrorist group. One antifa activist even cited the “concentration camps” rhetoric from Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in attacking an ICE facility with incendiary devices.
Calls for political violence are unacceptable, whether they come from the right or the left. Americans need to return to civility, disagreeing with one another peaceably.
In light of all this, the question is not why Universal finally came to its senses and pulled the video, but why executives thought The Hunt was material worthy of distribution in the first place. Furthermore, why do they still consider the filmmakers behind it “visionary”?
Follow Tyler O’Neil, the author of this article, on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.