Universal Pictures has cancelled the release of The Hunt, a satirical thriller about a group of Americans who are captured to be hunted and killed for sport, following apparent criticism by US President Donald Trump and a recent series of mass shootings.
The Comcast Corp division had held back on marketing the film, slated for release on September 27, after the shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, last week.
It gave no reason for the cancellation.
A Universal Pictures representative did not return an email seeking comment.
“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 on its
“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.”
Universal addresses #TheHunt cancellation: “We stand by our filmmakers and will continue to distribute films in partnership with bold and visionary creators… but we understand that now is not the right time to release this film” https://t.co/fbdqt7CTgz pic.twitter.com/G7rAoyLSxP
— Variety (@Variety) August 10, 2019
Mr Trump, taking to Twitter on Friday, criticised “liberal Hollywood” and an unnamed film with a pending release.
“The movie coming out is made in order to inflame and cause chaos,” Mr Trump tweeted.
….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!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 9, 2019
Trailers released online for the film depicted a group of wealthy villains orchestrating the open-field hunting of several Americans held against their will.
Variety reported Universal had previously temporarily stopped the marketing of the R-rated film.
Asked if the decision to scrap the release had been impacted by Mr Trump’s comments, a person familiar with the decision process, speaking on condition of anonymity to describe internal deliberations, said the cancellation had been under discussion by the studio and filmmaking team well before the comments were made, The Associated Press reported.
In the latest material that did air, stars including Betty Gilpin and Ike Barinholtz were seen brandishing assault rifles and taking on the group of would-be hunters.
Oscar winner Hilary Swank and Emma Roberts are also in the Blumhouse Productions film, with filmmaker Jason Blum’s other franchises including Paranormal Activity, The Purge, Insidious, and Sinister which have grossed more than $1.2 billion worldwide on combined budgets under $40 million.