The Hunt (2020 film)
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Craig Zobel|
|Based on||"The Most Dangerous Game"|
by Richard Connell
|Music by||Nathan Barr|
|Edited by||Jane Rizzo|
|Distributed by||Universal Pictures|
The Hunt is an upcoming American thriller film[a] directed by Craig Zobel and co-written by Damon Lindelof, based on the 1924 short story "The Most Dangerous Game" by Richard Connell. The film stars Betty Gilpin, Ike Barinholtz, Emma Roberts and Hilary Swank. Jason Blum is serving as a producer under his Blumhouse Productions banner. Both Zobel and Lindelof have said that the film serves as a satire on the profound political divide between the American left and right.
The film was originally scheduled for release on September 27, 2019. However, following the Dayton and El Paso mass shootings in early August 2019, Universal Pictures decided to shelve the release of the film. The decision came a day after criticism regarding the film came from United States President Donald Trump.
The Hunt has since been rescheduled for a theatrical release in the United States on March 13, 2020, by Universal Pictures.
Loosely based on the 1924 short story "The Most Dangerous Game" by Richard Connell, the film follows 12 strangers who mysteriously wake up in a clearing. They do not know where they are or how they got there. They discover that they have been chosen to be hunted in a game devised by a group of elites. The hunters gather in a remote facility called the Manor House, but their sport gets derailed when one of the hunted, Crystal (Betty Gilpin), fights back and starts killing them one by one.
In March 2018, Universal Pictures acquired the rights to the film, which would be directed by Craig Zobel with a script from Nick Cuse and Damon Lindelof. The original title of the script was Red State Vs. Blue State, a reference to the red states and blue states. Later, Universal issued a statement denying that the film had ever had it as its working title.
The elite hunters' reference to their quarry as "deplorables" is an allusion to the phrase "basket of deplorables", used by Hillary Clinton during the 2016 United States presidential election campaign to refer to supporters of then-presidential candidate Donald Trump. An early draft of the script depicted working-class conservatives as the film's heroes.
In March 2019, Emma Roberts, Justin Hartley, Glenn Howerton, Ike Barinholtz and Betty Gilpin were announced as being cast in the film. In April 2019, Amy Madigan, Jim Klock, Charli Slaughter, Steve Mokate and Dean West joined the cast of the film. Hilary Swank was announced as being cast in July.
The film was scheduled for release on September 27, 2019. It was, for a time, moved back to October 18 before shifting back to its original release date of September 27.
On August 7, 2019, Universal announced that in the wake of the Dayton and El Paso mass shootings, they would be suspending the film's promotional campaign. Several days later, the film was pulled from the studio's release schedule.
In February 2020, the film's release had been rescheduled to March 13, 2020, Friday the 13th, with a new trailer. Co-producer Jason Blum stated in an interview, "Not one frame was changed [...] This is exactly the same movie."
The Hollywood Reporter wrote that there were a pair of test screenings for the film which had "negative reactions". The second screening was held on August 6, 2019, in Los Angeles, in which "audience members were again expressing discomfort with the politics" of it, an issue Universal had not foreseen (although other studios had initially passed on the script for that very reason). In a statement to Variety, Universal pushed back on a report that test audiences had been uncomfortable with the film's political slant, and also countered claims that the script had originally had a politically explosive title. "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," a Universal spokesperson said. "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."
Prior to the film's initial shelving, the film attracted criticism from some of the media as an alleged portrayal of liberal elitists hunting supporters of Donald Trump. Trump issued a tweet on August 9, 2019, calling "Liberal Hollywood" "[r]acist at the highest level" and writing: "The movie coming out is made in order to inflame and cause chaos", adding "They create their own violence, and then try to blame others". Although Trump did not specify the name of the film, news vehicles believed that was most likely a reference to The Hunt.
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