- "The Hunt" director Craig Zobel spoke out for the first time since Universal pulled the release of his movie in an email interview with Variety.
- The director said he agreed with the decision to not release the movie following the early August mass shootings.
- He also said that the movie does not take political sides and is a satire.
- "Our ambition was to poke at both sides of the aisle equally," Zobel wrote to Variety. "We seek to entertain and unify, not enrage and divide. It is up to the viewers to decide what their takeaway will be."
- This lines up with what Business Insider saw when reading a copy of movie’s script.
- But the script Business Insider read did have lines that would likely anger Trump and his supporters.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
"The Hunt" director Craig Zobel spoke to Variety for the first time since his Blumhouse movie’s release date was pulled by Universal in the wake of mass shootings in early August, and gave some insight into the film and his feelings on it.
"I was devastated by going to sleep to El Paso and waking up to Dayton," Zobel wrote, referring to the recent mass shootings, in an email interview he did with the trade. "These types of moments happen far too often. 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."
Following the shootings, the trailer and marketing for "The Hunt" — which depicted the movie as a liberal-elites-hunting-conservatives story — instantly became a controversial topic, as some conservative news outlets used it as an example of Hollywood dividing the US.
President Trump went a step further. The day before Universal announced it would cancel the movie’s release, Trump called Hollywood "really terrible" and "racist," and tweeted, "the movie coming out is made in order … to inflame and cause chaos." Many in Hollywood and the media took Trump’s tweet to refer to "The Hunt."
But Zobel said the movie does not take a political side and is a satire.
"Our ambition was to poke at both sides of the aisle equally," Zobel wrote to Variety. "We seek to entertain and unify, not enrage and divide. It is up to the viewers to decide what their takeaway will be."
Universal Pictures/YouTube"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," he went on to write. "This rush to judgment is one of the most relevant problems of our time."
Zobel’s comments fit with the script Business Insider read of the movie. In the script, there is nothing political about the motivations of the elites, but going into the movie you have to think that there is for the storytelling to work.
That said, there are some moments in the movie that will likely anger Trump and his supporters.
In the script, a group text thread among the elites includes one writing, "Did anyone see what our ratf—er in chief just did?" One answers, "At least the hunt’s coming up. Nothing better than going out to The Manor and slaughtering a dozen deplorables." In another version of the script, that line ends "slaughtering a dozen inbred rednecks."
Then in another scene in the script, before an elite kills someone, the person says to their victim, "For the record … climate change is real."
In the Variety story, a Universal spokesperson also addressed some of the rumors surrounding the movie.
The studio denied that a test screening of the movie resulted in negative feedback, stating the film "tallied one of the highest test scores for an original Blumhouse film." The spokesperson also denied that the movie was ever 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," the spokesperson told the trade.
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- ‘Cowardly’: Some Hollywood insiders say Universal’s decision to scrap the release of ‘The Hunt’ after Trump’s comments sets a bad precedent