Hollywood studio cancels ‘The Hunt’ movie release after criticism

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Universal Pictures on Saturday canceled the release of “The Hunt,” a satirical thriller about a group of Americans who are captured to be hunted and killed for sport, following apparent criticism by President Donald Trump and a recent series of mass shootings.

The Comcast Corp division had held back on marketing the film, slated for release on Sept. 27, after the shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, last week.

It gave no reason for the cancellation. A Universal Pictures representative did not return an email seeking comment.

“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,” Universal said in a statement.

Trump, taking to Twitter on Friday, criticized “liberal Hollywood” and an unnamed film with a pending release.

“The movie coming out is made in order to inflame and cause chaos,” Trump tweeted.

Trailers released online for the film depicted a group of wealthy villains orchestrating the open-field hunting of several Americans held against their will.

The film came from Blumhouse Productions, which has produced a number of popular horror films such as “The Purge” and “Get Out.”

A Blumhouse representative did not immediately respond to calls on Saturday.

The Hollywood Reporter, citing details in the film’s screenplay, reported earlier this week that a character at one point called the people being hunted “deplorables.”

In 2016, then Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton said half the supporters of her Republican rival Trump belonged in a “basket of deplorables” of people who were racist, homophobic, sexist, xenophobic or Islamophobic.

Since then, some Trump supporters have used the term “deplorables” as a badge of honor.

Trailers for “The Hunt,” which featured heavy use of firearms, circulated online in media reports as the United States was dealing with the aftermath of a number of mass shootings, including in El Paso where 22 people, many of them Hispanic, were killed.

The accused gunman in El Paso confessed while surrendering and told police he was targeting “Mexicans,” according to a police affidavit released on Friday.

Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis; Editing by Richard Chang

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