'The Hunt' Director Speaks Out On The Controversial Film's Cancelation

For a movie that has been canceled and may never come out, everybody has something to say about The Hunt. Well, it's time to hear from somebody who actually has something to do with the controversial film. Director Craig Zobel has broken his silence to Variety about his movie, which follows a group of strangers, supposedly conservatives referred to as "deplorables", who are hunted by rich liberals for sport. And unsurprisingly, Zobel's aims weren't to divide people or foment violence as some may have you think....

“If I believed this film could incite violence, I wouldn’t have made it, ", Zobel said. He continued,  “Our ambition was to poke at both sides of the aisle equally. We seek to entertain and unify, not enrage and divide. It is up to the viewers to decide what their takeaway will be.”

Universal made the decision to cancel The Hunt following the domestic terror attack in El Paso and mass shooting in Dayton, which Trump and others in the right-wing attributed to Hollywood values. When word about The Hunt's premise got out, that only took their outrage to another level. Ironically, the finger-pointing that it caused on both sides of the political divide is exactly an issue Zobel wanted to address with the movie...

“I wanted to make a fun, action thriller that satirized this moment in our culture — where we jump to assume we know someone’s beliefs because of which ‘team’ we think they’re on… and then start shouting at them. This rush to judgment is one of the most relevant problems of our time."

“I was devastated by going to sleep to El Paso and waking up to Dayton. These types of moments happen far too often. In the wake of these horrific events, we immediately considered what it meant for the timing of our film. Once inaccurate assumptions about the content and intent of the movie began to take hold, I supported the decision to move the film off its release date.”

That might've been a decision those eagerly awaiting the film could support. We all understand how real-world issues can impact a movie's release, it's just the way things go. But the perception is that Universal caved under pressure that has them scrambling to defend themselves and refute some of the rumors out there.

For instance, Universal is now saying the movie's inflammatory working title, Red State vs. Blue State, "was never the working title for the film at any point throughout the development process, nor appeared on any status reports under that name", and there were never plans to cancel it for this reason. Universal also shoots down claims of poor audience test screenings in which audiences were uncomfortable with the movie's politics. 

At this point, who knows what the future holds for The Hunt. I highly doubt Universal will give it any kind of release, especially with the charged political climate only getting worse. But I continue to hope they shop it around to other distributors who may want to capitalize on this moment when the film is so hot and people will pay to see it. Remember, this is a Blumhouse film and it will only take so much for it to earn a profit.