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‘The Hunt’ Director Craig Zobel Doesn’t Believe Film Could Incite Violence: ‘I Wouldn’t Have Made It’

”Our ambition was to poke at both sides of the aisle equally,“ director tells Variety of canceled Universal film in wake of mass shootings

The director of “The Hunt” Craig Zobel, whose film saw its release canceled in the wake of a pair of mass shootings earlier this month, said he doesn’t believe the content of his film could incite violence.

“If I believed this film could incite violence, I wouldn’t have made it,” Zobel said in a statement to Variety on Monday. “We seek to entertain and unify, not enrage and divide. It is up to the viewers to decide what their takeaway will be.”

“The Hunt” was meant to be released by Universal via Blumhouse Productions but was pulled from the release slate on Aug. 10, just days after mass shootings took place within 24 hours of each other in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio.

The film is a satirical thriller in which working class, conservative characters are hunted for sport by a group of “liberal elites.” “The Hunt” was written by “Lost” showrunner Damon Lindelof and conservative Nick Cuse. However, the film has not screened for critics, and marketing was paused early on, so the full political content is not explicitly clear. Regardless, President Trump has been among those on the right to condemn the film as a movie made by “people who hate Trump,” according to The Daily Beast.

Zobel told Variety that the film is meant to poke fun at both sides of the aisle within the action thriller genre space.

“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,” Zobel said. “This rush to judgment is one of the most relevant problems of our time.”

Zoebl also said he was “devastated” by learning of the news of the shootings in El Paso and Dayton and said that they forced him to reconsider the timing of the film.

“These types of moments happen far too often,” Zobel said. “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.”

Universal had no comment in response to Zobel’s statement.

Check out Zobel’s full comments via Variety.