Universal Pictures has canceled plans to release the Blumhouse thriller “The Hunt” following the mass shootings last month in El Paso and Dayton.
“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,” the statement, posted on the film’s website, read. “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 the film.”
Additionally, an individual with knowledge of the situation told TheWrap, “This was a decision that the studio came to with ‘The Hunt’ filmmaking team. It was a tough call for the company, but studio leadership, led by Donna Langley, agreed that this film could wait.”
Previously, Universal had halted the marketing campaign for the horror film “out of sensitivity on the country’s recent shooting tragedies.”
Playing on divides in the current political climate, “The Hunt” follows 12 conservatives who discover they have been kidnapped and brought to The Manor, a hunting ground where liberal billionaires pay top dollar to hunt them for sport. Hilary Swank plays the founder of The Manor, while Betty Gilpin plays the leader of the hunted, as they fight back against their would-be killers. Craig Zobel directs, with Emma Roberts, Justin Hartley and Ike Barinholtz also starring.
A trailer for the film, which shows a gunfight in an open field and Gilpin’s character killing two of the Manor’s patrons with a shotgun, was released on July 30. An ad that was set to air on ESPN over the weekend was pulled after an attack on a Walmart in El Paso that killed 22 people.
Over the years, films have had their marketing adjusted following major tragedies. One of the most famous was a withdrawn trailer for Sam Raimi’s “Spider-Man,” which featured Spider-Man slinging up a helicopter with bank robbers between the towers of the World Trade Center. The trailer was removed following the Sept. 11 attacks.