Following a string of mass shootings last summer, Universal and Blumhouse scrapped plans to release political satire The Hunt—a decision that arguably spurred more controversy than the film itself might have, had it been released as planned in September. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the film, based on a script by Damon Lindelof and his Watchmen collaborator Nick Cuse, will now hit theaters on March 13, a full six months after its original date. The studios have also released a new trailer to coincide with the new date:
Directed by Craig Zobel (Compliance), The Hunt is a heightened, violent satire in which a group of wealthy liberals round up a bunch of “deplorables”—people who have shared extreme right-wing views online—with the intention of hunting and killing them. But they get more than they bargained for when one captive, played by GLOW’s Betty Gilpin, proves to be wildly resourceful and resilient.
When The Hunt was first shelved, various outlets reported on the film’s premise, which drew intense criticism from notable conservatives. Fox News devoted an absurd amount of airtime to the film, while President Trump attacked it via Twitter (where else), insisting that “elite” liberals are “the true racists.” Now that the controversy has settled, Blumhouse and Universal have decided to release The Hunt in March. The new marketing materials embrace the controversy, with a poster that proclaims “The most talked-about movie of the year is one that no one’s actually seen.”
It might not be unreasonable to suggest that the success of Lindelof and Cuse’s Watchmen, which effectively explored raw socio-political territory, helped make a case for releasing The Hunt. Or that the recent acclaim (and Oscar win) for Taika Waititi’s “anti-hate satire,” Jojo Rabbit, may have emboldened the studios to reconsider. But more likely, as Lindelof and Blumhouse head Jason Blum explain to THR, the film just needed time and distance from the initial controversy.
“It’s probably the most judged movie that’s ever existed that everyone who judged it hadn’t seen,” said Blum. “We weren’t going to win the conversation around that and so it was our decision, in holding hands with Universal, to take the movie off the schedule.” Lindelof says he was frustrated by the assumptions made about the film’s plot and political stance by those who had not seen the film for themselves:
For us there was just a fundamental frustration that nobody was talking about the movie. They were all talking about what their perception of the movie was—a perception that was largely formed based on all the events in the aftermath of the horrific weekend before. [But] we really don’t want to be pointing fingers, and more importantly, we don’t want to be wagging fingers at anyone for overreacting or reacting incorrectly. We just felt like the movie was being misunderstood.
Lindelof and Blum also wish to make it clear that The Hunt isn’t singling out one political group, but takes aim at extreme views on both sides and how divided the country has become in this current political administration. “We think that people who see it are going to enjoy it and this may be a way to shine a light on a very serious problem in the country, which is that we’re divided,” says Lindelof. “And we think the movie may actually, ironically, bring people together.”