Release of The Hunt cancelled – for now
I am not celebrating what many conservatives no doubt feel is a victory. Universal Pictures has cancelled the planned release and marketing program for the film, The Hunt, following a media firestorm and a presidential tweet criticizing its subject matter of a hunt of Trump-supporters by a group of wealthy progressives. Variety reports:
Universal Pictures has canceled the release of its upcoming thriller “The Hunt.” The film was previously set to hit theaters Sept. 27.
“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. “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.”
Insiders tell Variety that the studio came to the decision alongside “The Hunt” filmmakers. They also said it was a tough decision for the company, but studio leadership ultimately determined that the film could wait.
“Wait” does not mean “junked.” Millions of dollars have been invested in the movie by Blumhouse Productions, an independent producer that has scored a number of hits with provocative themes, such as Get Out!
Hillary Swank, star of The Hunt, made a point that bothers me. Via The UK Independent:
Speaking at the Locarno Film Festival in Switzerland, Swank refused to discuss the film with Screen Daily Editor-in-Chief Mike Goodridge, saying: “No one’s seen the film. You can’t really have a conversation about it without understanding what it’s about.”
Robin Schweiger, who says he has read the script, tweeted:
So Damon Lindelof's and Carlton Cuse's movie The Hunt got canceled. Liberals on social media seemed to interpret it as sympathetic to racist MAGA types, while the conservative bubble interpreted it as liberal wish fulfillment. Everyone was pissed. And everyone was wrong. A Thread— Robin Schweiger (@SilentBob_G) August 10, 2019
I am rather suspicious that the film may well turn out to make points acceptable, or even congenial to conservatives and Trump-supporters. In an atmosphere where people wearing MAGA hats are attacked on the street, it might well be that the wealthy hunters are being satirized, and the MAGA crowd become the heroes, fighting back. That's the problem with banning works of art before knowing what is in them.
Hollywood has a long history of provoking outrage as a promotional tactic. Producers used to hope that Boston’s film censors (yes, there were censors employed by the city back in the day) would ban a film showing a bit too much of (for instance) Theda Bara’s leg, enabling them to promote their films nationwide as “banned in Boston.” It worked very well for them.
My guess is that when outrage over mass shootings dies down – assuming we are not in for an unending string of such incidents – the film will be released, and conservatives will be mocked as paranoiacs who shouldn’t be believed by voters in the 2020 election.