Following several years of complaints that cultural scolds, usually from the political left, were pushing to “cancel” entertainment and entertainers with which they disagreed, and an entire separate ideology has emerged arguing that the supposedly out-of-control “PC culture” of today means that various classics of the past “could never be made today”, a movie has now had its entire release abandoned by a major studio due to political pressure.
And the pressure hasn’t come from the “wokesters” or “PC scolds.”
Universal Pictures announced Saturday that it has cancelled the planned September release of The Hunt, a satirical thriller from the Blumhouse production company. The plot of the film, which stars Ike Barinholtz, Betty Gilpin, Hilary Swank, and Glenn Howerton, has people being hunted for sport by global elites, and then fighting back.
The decision came following the mass shooting events in El Paso and Dayton, but also after Fox News and other conservative media outlets began attacking the film, interpreting it as a left-wing attack against conservatives, and implying that the film is on the side of those hunting the “deplorables.” President Trump even alluded to this in a tweet:
“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!,” the president tweeted.
Now, like everyone else, I have not seen The Hunt. It has neither played at film festivals nor been screened for critics. But as many have pointed out, the Fox News version of the film’s politics almost certainly isn’t correct. Judging by the trailer, the characters being hunted are the heroes of the film, and the “elites” hunting them the villains. Whatever its sympathies, I hope to one day have a chance to see the film.
“The cancellation of THE HUNT feels like that moment when the Trumpist Right has reach true peak own-goal stupidity,” conservative Twitter personality Esoteric CD tweeted over the weekend. “Congrats to Fox News for denying these people what could have been a major right-wing cult classic film, out of idiocy or cynical desire for a short news-cycle win.”
Conservative film critic Kyle Smith agreed, in National Review.
It’s not a rare occasion at all for movie studios to delay the release of movies due to national tragedies; several films had their release dates moved following everything from the Columbine massacre to the 9/11 attacks to various other mass shooting events. The difference is, the releases haven’t usually been cancelled altogether.
For all of the supposed excesses of the allegedly powerful woke left, it’s tended much more frequently towards writing negative think-pieces, than towards actually stopping movies from being released. But Fox News, with an assist from the president, appears to have succeeded at the latter – for a movie that their audience may very well have loved.