Universal Pictures is officially cancelling the theatrical release for the film The Hunt, it was reported on Saturday, following the uproar and backlash over the storyline in which apparent liberal elites hunt "deplorables", Most Dangerous Game-style.
"Nothing better than going out to the Manor and slaughtering a dozen deplorables," says one character in the film's trailer, ads for which were pulled earlier this week.
Although there was some question as to whether the so-called Deplorables, an obvious reference to Trump voters, were the protagonists in the Blum House production, the premise caused a good deal of controversy and sparked a lot of social media strife. Particularly given how much attention is being paid to violent imagery and rhetoric right now.
It caused such a splash, in fact, that it even elicited a Trump Twitter rant.
"Liberal Hollywood is Racist at the highest level, and with great Anger and Hate! They like to call themselves 'Elite,' but they are not Elite. In fact, it is often the people that they so strongly oppose that are actually the Elite," Trump tweeted on Friday in a two-part attack on the film and Hollywood in general.
"The movie coming out is made in order...to inflame and cause chaos. They create their own violence, and then try to blame others. They are the true Racists, and are very bad for our Country!" said the President.
The next day, the studio released a statement announcing the film's demise.
"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. 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 Hollywood Reporter spoke with a studio source for their report, who added that "This was a decision that the studio came to with The Hunt filmmaking team, but ultimately it was about making the right decision, right now. It was a tough call for the company, but studio leadership, led by Donna Langley, all agreed that this film could wait."
When THR reported on the studio pulling advertising for the film earlier in the week, they cited the massacres in El Paso and Dayton as part of the rationale.
The studio's statement doesn't point any fingers at any group or individual in their decision to pull the film, although the combined factors are apparent. Still, it's interesting that the pushback from the right isn't mentioned at all, even in an oblique way.