The movie that was supposed to be the newest release from indie home Blumhouse, The Hunt, is now sitting on a shelf following Universal's decision to not release the movie. With several mass shooting incidents taking place in recent days, the feeling was that now was not the right time to release a movie that included violence with a political slant. However, the studio is firing back at any implication that his movie was meant to add gas to the fire of political tension.
Craig Zobel, director of The Hunt, says that if he believed the movie was going to incite violence, he would not have made it. Instead the film, which featured "liberal elites" hunting "conservative deplorables" for sport, was designed to poke fun on those on both sides of the political divide. Universal released a statement to Variety which stated that a rumor that the movie was, at one time, actually going to be called Red State vs. Blue State, was simply untrue. According to the studio...
While some outlets have indicated that test screenings for The Hunt resulted in negative audience feedback; in fact, the film was very well-received and tallied one of the highest test scores for an original Blumhouse film. Additionally, no audience members in attendance at the test screening expressed discomfort with any political discussion in the film. While reports also say The Hunt was formerly titled Red State vs. Blue State, that was never the working title for the film at any point throughout the development process, nor appeared on any status reports under that name.
It's certainly true that if there were ever plans to call the movie Red State vs. Blue State, then clearly the plan was to capitalize on the seemingly growing political divide for box office success. However, it appears that such a title was never even a consideration at any point. A movie called The Hunt could be about anything, the title itself isn't looking to be controversial.
Of course, the movie was likely going to have to deal with some controversy, but it seems that ultimately, the film is actually about those on both sides tend to assume they understand those on the other side of the political spectrum without actually talking to them. The movie is about how we should not rush to judgment, which makes the situation regarding the political backlash to the film somewhat ironic, if unsurprising.
At this point, the fate of The Hunt is unclear. The film's scheduled release has been canceled and its unclear when, if ever, audiences will have a chance to see the movie. Odds are even if the movie does still get a theatrical release down the road, it will be done quietly, with a minimal marketing push. Otherwise, we could see the film make the jump to a streaming service or a video-on-demand release.