As we reported over the weekend, the release of The Hunt has officially been cancelled. No, not moved to a later release date; completely taken off Universal’s calendar. In the vein of A Most Dangerous Game, The Hunt was said to follow 12 strangers who wake up in a clearing, have no idea how they got there and then discover they’re actually being hunted by a group of elites. Following the real-life shootings in El Paso and Dayton, Universe initially opted to just push pause on the marketing campaign for the film, but ultimately came to the decision to cancel the whole thing outright.
The situation sparked a good deal of controversy as the news broke shortly after President Trump criticized Hollywood on Twitter writing, “The movie coming out is made in order … to inflame and cause chaos. They create their own violence, and then try to blame others.” The order of events have led to major concern regarding the possibility of growing censorship in Hollywood.
Today on Movie Talk, the team asks not whether or not Universal made the right move but rather, is all of this really worth the controversy? On the one hand, The Hunt has a reported production budget of $18.2 million. If Universal ran with a minimal marketing campaign leading up to the planned September 27th release, would they have incurred much of a loss? And what about the long-term effects of making a decision like this, especially after Wal-Mart opted to stop promoting violent video games? Will this become an unforgettable blemish on Universal Pictures and will it pave the way to more cancelations of similar material? After all, Universal is the home of The Purge franchise.
I was once a big fan of The Purge franchise but admittedly, the series has lost appeal, likely due to the frequency of violent events in the real world. Does that mean Universal should stop making Purge movies? Perhaps if they have diminishing returns at the box office, but that’s not the case yet so for now, the ball’s in my court; I choose whether or not to see that kind of content. While I may take a pass on certain material that taps into timely, upsetting matters every now and then, I would rather have that choice than have a studio make it for me.
Check out the video at the top of this article to watch the Movie Talk team weigh in on these questions and what it might mean for the future of film. The panelists also run through the weekend box office report which includes Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark topping expectations and The Kitchen flopping hard. Tune in for Collider Movie Talk every day, Monday through Friday, at 3pm PT live on the Collider Video YouTube channel!