One of the most strangely contentious movies of the last year or so was Blumhouse’s low budget thriller The Hunt, which even drew the ire of the president of the United States. The high concept premise sees a dozen strangers wake up in a clearing with no idea where they are or how they got there. Slowly, it’s revealed that murmurs of an internet rumor are true, and they’ve been herded by the rich to a remote location to be hunted for sport.
It’s a solid pitch, one that opens itself up to plenty of gnarly action and biting satire, but it proved to be a lightning rod for controversy. In the wake of several mass shootings that happened shortly after the first trailer was released, Universal pulled The Hunt from the theatrical scheduled entirely, matters that probably weren’t helped by the man in the White House decrying it as racist towards conservatives and being specifically created to cause chaos.
Having first been canceled in August 2019, The Hunt eventually made it to theaters in March of last year, right before the Coronavirus pandemic came along and decimated the entire industry. Just three days after premiering on the big screen, Craig Zobel’s film was made available to purchase on VOD. In a new interview, producer Jason Blum addressed the backlash and said he was upset by people trying to tear down a project a lot of people had worked hard on, based on nothing but unfounded rumors.
“The pre-release controversy of The Hunt ruined the whole movie. I mean, it ruined the release of the movie. The Hunt was going to be a big hit movie, and the controversy before the movie destroyed the release of the movie. When I get asked what’s my biggest regret running the company, it’s that no one got to see The Hunt because of that controversy. That controversy is horrible. It was bad.
It was controversy about a movie no one had seen. People were making up stuff about a movie they had not seen, and I really hope it never happens again. I’m worrying about it happening before every movie. If we have controversy before a movie, it can wreck the release. But what can you do? I don’t worry too much. I can’t control it.”
The Hunt did at least manage to make its $14 million budget back in theaters despite such a brief run, and it feels destined to find a second life as a cult classic in the years to come.