Universal cancels ‘The Hunt’ release in wake of mass shootings and Trump scrutiny

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Universal Pictures has canceled the September release of “The Hunt” in the wake of recent mass shootings, intense scrutiny from conservative media and tweets by President Trump seen as alluding to the film as a movie “made in order … to inflame and cause chaos.”

“While Universal Pictures had already paused the marketing campaign for ‘The Hunt,’ after thoughtful consideration, the studio has decided to cancel our plans to release the film,” a Universal representative said in a statement Saturday. “We stand by our filmmakers and will continue to distribute films in partnership with bold and visionary creators, like those associated with this satirical social thriller, but we understand that now is not the right time to release this film.”

The film’s cast is led by “GLOW” Emmy nominee Betty Gilpin, Emma Roberts and Ike Barinholtz as strangers who wake up in a clearing and realize they are being hunted for sport. Oscar winner Hilary Swank also stars. Directed by Craig Zobel (“Compliance,” “Z for Zachariah”) from a script by Nick Cuse and “Lost” co-creator Damon Lindelof and produced by Lindelof and Blumhouse’s Jason Blum, it was scheduled to be released Sept. 27.

A source close to the project confirmed that any decision about when — or on what platform — “The Hunt” may be released in the future remains up to Universal.