Universal cancels 'The Hunt' release after backlash

Universal Pictures canceled the release of its upcoming thriller “The Hunt,” which was slated to be released on Sept. 27, after backlash over the film, which depicts privileged vacationers hunting “deplorables’ for sport.

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“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 said in a statement, posted on the film’s website. “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 Hunt,” directed by Craig Zobel and written by Damon Lindelof and Nick Cuse, was billed as a political satire. It followed a group 12 “normal folk” seemingly from red states, who wake up in a clearing only to realize they’re being hunted for sport by a group of liberal elites.

According to the Hollywood trade publication, characters in the film refer to the victims as “deplorables” -- something that Hillary Clinton once used to describe some of President Trump’s supporters during the 2016 presidential election.

The movie spurred a conservative backlash, with some calling it “political violence” to others suggesting it represented “sick murder fantasies about right-wingers.”

It also drew heat in the wake of back-to-back mass shootings in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio, which left 31 people dead. After the shootings, Universal put a temporary halt on marketing for the film.

The film starred Betty Gilpin, Emma Roberts -- who could be seen toting assault rifles and pistols -- and Hilary Swank.