The Hunt to be released in theaters next month despite criticism from Donald Trump
Blumhouse Productions’ horror-thriller The Hunt will be released on March 13, seven months after the film was pulled from the schedule in reaction to criticisms by President Donald Trump.
In the movie, which stars Betty Gilpin, a group of liberal-minded people hunts conservatives for sport. The film was originally scheduled for release on Sept. 27 of last year but Universal pulled the film’s trailers and marketing materials following two mass shootings that killed 31 people in El, Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, on Aug. 3 and 4. On Aug. 6, The Hollywood Reporter revealed that in the screenplay, one character refers to “slaughtering a dozen deplorables.” The phrase “basket of deplorables” was infamously used by Hillary Clinton during the 2016 election to refer to Trump supporters.
Blumhouse and Universal canceled the release indefinitely after Trump denounced the film on Twitter. “Liberal Hollywood is Racist at the highest level, and with great Anger and Hate!” wrote the President. “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!”
“My overwhelming feeling then was what it is now, which is that I wish that he had seen it,” said Lindelof, whose many other writing credits include the TV shows Lost and Watchmen. “The movie that he was talking about was not the movie that I feel that we made. It was the movie that it was being reported on. So, if he had said, ‘This is a piece of s—, I’m sorry I wasted my time,’ that would have felt better because at least he was talking about the movie.”
“My overwhelming thought — after my being surprised — was trying to figure out how we could get the president to see the movie,” said Blum. “That was my biggest thing I was thinking about at that time. And I would love the president to see the movie.”
The movie is certainly more politically balanced than Trump’s critique would imply with the film’s liberal characters coming in for a similar amount of mockery as its conservatives.
“I was surprised, I was surprised,” said Lindelof about the controversy that surrounded the film. “In hindsight, and as it was happening, I completely understood why it was happening…[But] having seen it play in test screenings, it was just completely and totally beyond my understanding that the movie was controversial or provocative or ‘third rail.’ That just completely threw me for a loop. Once it started happening, then I was like, ‘Oh, I understand this, given the context of how it’s happening.’ But there was no part of me that was like rolling up my sleeves going, like, ‘I’m a f—ing provocateur!’ I don’t even know how to spell that word!”
Blum, meanwhile, insisted that he always believed the film would eventually come out.
“I think we needed time,” he said. “There’s never been a movie where there was so much judgment about a movie nobody has seen…. I was definitely very surprised by that. And it took a long time to process. But we always felt, together, collectively with the studio, that the movie would come out.”
Lindelof also spoke about his ambitions for the film.
“I hope people like it,” he said. “You can ask anyone who knows me…. I spend a disproportionate amount of time hating everything that I do. It wasn’t until the movie got canceled that I felt like, ‘Hey, I just want people to see it.… I don’t think … the movie is … going to be provocative. I don’t think that people are going to be picketing this movie or saying that this movie is dangerous or harmful. And that feels like it was the narrative the first time around before anybody had seen it. But I’ve been surprised before. It’s possible that people will see this movie and say it’s irresponsible or it’s a call to violence and I want to be in dialogs with those people because I think I want to understand that better. Because I think that everybody in the movie who is extreme, and advances extreme positions and stereotypes about the other side, they get their comeuppance.”
The Hunt is directed by Craig Zobel and co-written by Nick Cuse. The film costars Ike Barinholtz, Emma Roberts, and Hilary Swank.
Watch the new trailer for The Hunt above and see the movie’s new poster below.