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Universal stops marketing The Hunt after most recent deadly mass shootings

Universal stops marketing The Hunt after most recent deadly mass shootings

Enlarge / In The Hunt, Betty Gilpin plays Crystal, a woman who must fight for her life when she’s hunted by wealthy “elites.”YouTube/Universal reader comments 28 with 24 posters participating Share this story Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Reddit Deadline Hollywood is reporting that Universal Pictures has temporarily ceased its marketing campaign…


In<em>The Hunt</em>, Betty Gilpin plays Crystal, a woman who must fight for her life when she's hunted by wealthy
Enlarge/InThe Hunt, Betty Gilpin plays Crystal, a woman who must fight for her life when she’s hunted by wealthy “elites.”
YouTube/Universal

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28 with 24 posters participating

Deadline Hollywood is reporting that Universal Pictures has temporarily ceased its marketing campaign for its upcoming satirical thriller, The Hunt, in the wake of three recent US mass shootings that claimed the lives of more than 30 people. The film starsGLOW‘s Betty Gilpin and Oscar winner Hilary Swank as two women from opposite ends of the political spectrum hunting each other—essentially a modern update of the classic short story, “The Most Dangerous Game.”

“Out of sensitivity to the attention on the country’s recent shooting tragedies, Universal Pictures and the filmmakers of The Hunthave temporarily paused its marketing campaign and are reviewing materials as we move forward,” a representative for the studio told Deadline.

Delays like this have become something of a standard operating procedure for Hollywood over the last 20+ years as the industry grapples with how to navigate the dark reality of gun violence in America. Back in 1999, for instance, Buffy the Vampire Slayerpostponed airing the episode “Earshot” in the wake of the Columbine High School massacre. Warner Bros postponed the release and recut a scene for its 2012 filmGangster Squadbecause of the Aurora shooting. And just last year, the television adaptation ofHeathers was pushed back, recut, and nearly cancelled in light of the Parkland shooting. When writing about Universal’s decision withThe Hunt, Deadline notes even more examples—from Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Collateral Damage shifting after September 11, 2001 and the 2017 Death Wish remake delayed following the mass shooting in Las Vegas.

Written byLOST‘s Damon Lindelof and Nick Cuse,The Hunt may have been primed for controversy even before real-world tragedies occurred. The film is about 12 strangers who wake up in a clearing with no idea where they are or how they got there. They soon discover they are “prey” at an exclusive resort called The Manor, where theuber-wealthy come to hunt human beings—although Hilary Swank’s high-end executive (who masterminded the whole thing) scoffs that they should hardly be considered “beings.” Things really get interesting when the “hunted” get their own weapons and start fighting back.

It’s not a particularly new idea since Richard Connell’s “The Most Dangerous Game” was first published in 1924 and has spawned countless film and television interpretations of the basic concept over the ensuing decades. But there’s of course a twist in this case: the hunted all hail from red states (“deplorables”), and the hunters are purportedly “liberals”—albeit of the super-entitleduber-wealthy variety. “We pay for everything so the country belongs to us,” Swank’s character declares in the film’s trailer. Various teasers had previously aired on TV (including on CNN during the recent Democratic debates) and remain online (embedded below).

It’s worth noting that this character’s statement, and her refusal to see the hunted as fully human beings, are not even remotely representative of a liberal stance—nor a traditionally conservative one.

Needless to say, Fox News has been having a field day with the film’s story. We’ll wait to see the film and judge for ourselves whether it ultimately works as satirical entertainment or not, and whether it does, indeed, cross any cultural lines. As always, “good taste” can be very subjective—isThe Huntany better or worse thanThe Purgefranchise, for instance? (Jason Blum produced both, along withGet Out.) But given the current political environment headlined by peak partisan tensions and a nation trying to simultaneously grieve and seek solutions following recent mass shootings in El Paso, Texas; Dayton, Ohio; and Gilroy, California, Universal’s decision to pull back on its marketing campaign seems like a wise business decision.

For now,The Huntwill still open as originally scheduled on September 27, 2019.

Universal’sThe Hunttrailer.

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