The Hunt director and Universal Pictures push back on 'inaccurate assumptions' that led to film's cancellation

Craig Zobel.
(Image credit: Larry Busacca/Getty Images)

The director of The Hunt is speaking out after a firestorm led to the film's cancellation, making the case that the whole thing was a big misunderstanding.

Craig Zobel, who directed the political satire that Universal Pictures recently pulled from its September release, told Variety on Monday that the intent of his movie "was to poke at both sides of the aisle equally" and not to "enrage and divide."

Universal pulled advertising for The Hunt in the wake of two deadly mass shootings, but further criticism of the film emerged after a report that its plot revolved around liberal elites hunting "deplorables" for sport. Multiple Fox News segments blasted the movie, and President Trump himself weighed in, tweeting about "the movie coming out" that he said was "made in order to inflame and cause chaos." While Trump didn't name the film, it can be assumed he was talking about The Hunt. Not quite taken into account was the fact that the movie's trailer suggested the "deplorables" were the heroes of the film, something Variety reports is clear in an early draft of the script.

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Zobel told Variety he does not believe the film "could incite violence" and that it "satirized this moment in our culture — where we jump to assume we know someone's beliefs because of which 'team' we think they're on ... and then start shouting at them." He also criticized "inaccurate assumptions about the content and intent of the movie" but said that he "supported" the studio's decision to pull it once these assumptions "began to take hold." Now, Zobel says he hopes everyone will "reflect on why we are in this moment, where we don’t have any desire to listen to each other."

It remains unclear whether The Hunt could be released at a later date, but Zobel hopes it can be, and producer Jason Blum told Vulture there is "definitely a chance" of it still coming out.

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