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The Hunt is an unreleased 2019 American satire horror thriller film[2] directed by Craig Zobel and written by Nick Cuse and Damon Lindelof. It is an adaptation of The Most Dangerous Game, a 1924 short story by Richard Connell. It stars Betty Gilpin, Ike Barinholtz, Emma Roberts and Hilary Swank. Jason Blum is serving as a producer under his Blumhouse Productions banner.[2]

The Hunt
The Hunt 2019 poster.png
Teaser poster with original release date
Directed byCraig Zobel
Produced by
Written by
  • Nick Cuse
  • Damon Lindelof
Music byNathan Barr
CinematographyDarran Tiernan
Distributed byUniversal Pictures
CountryUnited States
Budget$18.2 million[1]

The film was originally planned with a release date of 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.[2] The decision came a day after criticism regarding the film came from US President Donald Trump.[3]



Loosely based on the 1924 short story The Most Dangerous Game, by Richard Connell,[4] the film follows 12 strangers who mysteriously wake up in a clearing.[2][5][6] 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 people from the rich elite.[2][7] The hunters gather in a remote facility called the Manor House, but their sport gets derailed when one of the hunted, Crystal (Gilpin), fights back and starts killing them one by one.[8]

The elite hunters’ reference to their quarry as “deplorables” is an allusion to a 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.[3] An early draft of the script depicted working-class conservatives as the film's heroes.[9] Though some reports indicated the original title of the film was Red State vs. Blue State (after the U.S. political term red states and blue states), Universal issued a statement denying that the film had ever had that as its working title.[9]



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.[10][11]

In March 2019, Emma Roberts, Justin Hartley, Glenn Howerton, Ike Barinholtz and Betty Gilpin were announced as being cast in the film.[12][13][14] In April 2019, Amy Madigan, Jim Klock, Charli Slaughter, Steve Mokate and Dean West joined the cast of the film.[15][16] Hilary Swank was announced as being cast in July.[17]

Filming began on February 20, 2019, in New Orleans and was due to finish on April 5.[18]


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.[19]

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.[20][21] Several days later, the film was pulled from the studio's release schedule.[22][23] An international release is still a possibility.[24]


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, and that "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 a 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.[24] “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.”[24]

Prior to the film's shelving, the film attracted criticism from some of the media as an alleged portrayal of liberal elitists hunting supporters of Donald Trump.[21][25] Trump issued a tweet on August 9, 2019, calling "Liberal Hollywood" "[r]acist at the highest level" and saying that, "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.[25][26][27]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Film and Television Tax Credit Program Program 2.0 (PDF) (Report). California Film Commission. p. 4. Retrieved July 19, 2019.
  2. ^ a b c d e "Ads Pulled for Gory Universal Thriller 'The Hunt' in Wake of Mass Shootings (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. 2019-08-06. Retrieved 2019-08-08.
  3. ^ a b News; World (2019-08-12). "Universal Pictures cancels Hilary Swank film depicting Liberal voters hunting Trump supporters | National Post". Retrieved 2019-08-13.
  4. ^ Molloy, Parker (16 August 2019). "What the cancellation of The Hunt says about the power of right-wing outrage culture". Media Matters. Retrieved 26 August 2019.
  5. ^ "Does an Upcoming Movie Show 'Liberals' Hunting Trump Supporters?". Snopes. Retrieved 8 August 2019.
  6. ^ Dry, Jude; Dry, Jude (2019-07-30). "'The Hunt' Official Trailer: Betty Gilpin and Hilary Swank Duke It Out in Bloody Blumhouse Horror". IndieWire. Retrieved 2019-08-08.
  7. ^ Nickolai, Nate (2019-08-08). "Universal Temporarily Halts Marketing for 'The Hunt' Following Mass Shootings". Variety. Retrieved 2019-08-08.
  8. ^ Stewart, John (2019-07-30). "'The Hunt' Chases Down Another Trailer". Slanted. Retrieved 2019-08-08.
  9. ^ a b Lang, Gene Maddaus,Brent; Maddaus, Gene; Lang, Brent (2019-08-19). "'The Hunt' Director Breaks Silence on Film's Cancellation (Exclusive)". Variety. Retrieved 2019-08-20.
  10. ^ N'Duka, Amanda; N'Duka, Amanda (March 28, 2018). "Universal, Blumhouse Pick Up 'The Hunt' From 'The Leftovers' Creator Damon Lindelof".
  11. ^ Travers, Ben (July 6, 2018). "Jason Blum Has a Secret for Making Great Horror Films: Hire from TV". IndieWire. Retrieved November 9, 2018.
  12. ^ N'Duka, Amanda; N'Duka, Amanda (March 13, 2019). "Emma Roberts, 'This Is Us' Star Justin Hartley & Glenn Howerton Join Damon Lindelof's Thriller 'The Hunt'".
  13. ^ N'Duka, Amanda; N'Duka, Amanda (March 15, 2019). "Ike Barinholtz Joins Universal/ Blumhouse Thriller 'The Hunt'".
  14. ^ N'Duka, Amanda (March 25, 2019). "'GLOW' Star Betty Gilpin Set For 'The Hunt' From Universal & Blumhouse". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved March 25, 2019.
  15. ^ N'Duka, Amanda (April 9, 2019). "'The Hunt': Amy Madigan Cast In Universal, Blumhouse Political Thriller". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved April 9, 2019.
  16. ^ Williams, Trey (April 10, 2019). "Damon Lindelof, Jason Blum's 'The Hunt' Adds Jim Klock, Charli Slaughter, Dean West to Cast (Exclusive)". The Wrap. Retrieved April 16, 2019.
  17. ^ N'Duka, Amanda; N'Duka, Amanda (July 10, 2019). "Oscar Winner Hilary Swank Joins 'The Hunt' At Universal".
  18. ^ Times-Picayune, Mike Scott, NOLA com | The. "Who's filming in Louisiana: From 'Jay and Silent Bob' to Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Jamie Foxx".
  19. ^ Pedersen, Erik (March 6, 2019). "Universal Shifts Damon Lindelof's 'The Hunt' To October; 'Addams Family' Moves Up A Week". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved March 12, 2019.
  20. ^ Beresford, Trilby; Rahman, Abid (August 7, 2019). "Universal Pulls 'The Hunt' Ads Amid Gun Violence Uproar". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved August 7, 2019.
  21. ^ a b Schrupp, Kenneth (2019-08-09). "[Opinion] The Hunt and the Snowflake GOP: We're Better Than This". The California Review. Retrieved 2019-08-12.
  22. ^ McClintock, Pamela; Beresford, Tribly (August 10, 2019). "Universal Scraps 'The Hunt' Release Following Gun Violence Uproar". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved August 10, 2019.
  23. ^ Revely-Calder, Cal (August 12, 2019). "The Hunt called off: how a gun-crazy Hollywood liberal fantasy ended up in Trump's crosshairs" – via
  24. ^ a b c Siegel, Tatiana (August 14, 2019). "Behind Universal's Call to Scrap 'The Hunt': Death Threats, Negative Test Screening Feedback". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved August 14, 2019.
  25. ^ a b "Trump criticizes Hollywood amid controversy over political satire 'The Hunt'". The Washington Post. August 9, 2019. Retrieved August 10, 2019.
  26. ^ "Donald Trump Hits "Racist" Hollywood Again Over 'The Hunt,' Tinseltown Calls "Bullsh*t"". Deadline. August 9, 2019. Retrieved August 13, 2019.
  27. ^ "Universal Just Canceled The Release Of THE HUNT". Birth.Movies.Death. August 9, 2019. Retrieved August 13, 2019.

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