If you were forced to read the short story “The Most Dangerous Game” at some point in high school, the trailer for the upcoming movie The Hunt probably seems pretty familiar to you. Basically, a group of people wake up in a mysterious place only to realize they’re being hunted by “elites.” Chaos ensues. The film was slated for release in September, but due to some serious controversy, Universal Pictures delayed it. Here’s everything you need to know about the film before it comes out on March 13.
There’s a lot to unpack here, but there are reports that the film was originally called Red State Vs. Blue State (the director later denied this). The official commercials for The Hunt started rolling out last summer, marketing the film as a satire. There’s a moment early on in the movie that seems to assert that the fictional Hunt pits liberals against conservatives. “Did anyone see what our ratf*cker-in-chief just did?” one character asks. Another responds: “At least the Hunt’s coming up. Nothing better than going out to the Manor and slaughtering a dozen deplorables.”
The outrage was over the idea that there was an entire movie depicting liberals and conservatives fighting each other to the death. Regardless of which side of the political spectrum you hang out on, there are reasons to be offended by both characterizations. Craig Zobel, the director, said in a statement that the film makes fun of the partisanship in America. “Our ambition was to poke at both sides of the aisle equally,” he wrote. “We seek to entertain and unify, not enrage and divide. It is up to the viewers to decide what their takeaway will be.” It’s worth noting that a lot of the people who were talking about it on social media hadn’t actually seen the movie.
When the movie first started screening for test audiences, the Hollywood Reporter wrote that reactions to it were mixed. “Some test audience members were again expressing discomfort with the politics of the film” after the second screening.
The controversial plot wasn’t the reason for the delay though. The commercials, which were violent in nature, were running when the El Paso and Dayton shootings happened. The shootings left 34 people dead, and Universal paused the advertising for the movie altogether due to the backlash they were receiving. Apparently, executives and the filmmakers responsible were also receiving death threats on email and social media.
The Donald Trump factor??
The other part of this saga that is not necessarily important but interesting to flag is that when all this controversy was happening, Donald Trump tweeted this.
....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
The current situation
With all this happening in the span of a few weeks, Universal decided to let this cool down for a while and shelved the movie. It turns out that was only temporary, though, because in February, it announced the film would come out in March. The current marketing strategy leans into the controversy. “The most talked-about movie of the year is one nobody’s seen yet,” the trailer boasts. Like Joker before it, this movie might benefit from all the conversation. Either way, you’ll have to see it for yourself to make your own opinions on how controversial it truly is.
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