The Hunt Release Date and Trailer for Controversial Universal and Blumhouse Thriller

Universal and Blumhouse's controversial thriller, The Hunt, is back on the release schedule after being pulled last summer.

Damon Lindelof The Hunt

The Hunt was, at one point, in danger of going the way of The Interview. Just as Sony once delayed (and eventually canceled) its controversial North Korea comedy, Universal ended up delaying its own controversial thriller. However, it now appears that The Hunt will fare better than that film.

Back in August, Universal Pictures pulled the Damon Lindelof and Blumhouse-produced The Hunt from its original September 27, 2019 release date. The move came on the heels of two mass shootings in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio, and also some vague political posturing from the President. Yet, with things having seemingly settled in the news cycle some six months later, the film has managed to avoid its speculated fate of being sent to On Demand purgatory, and is now back on track for a theatrical release.

Indeed, not only is The Hunt back on the release schedule, but Universal is attempting a new strategy to combat its controversial aspects: humor! Consequently, the updated logline and latest trailer for the revived film brandishes a bevy of sarcasm and cheekiness in an attempt to not just get in front of the film’s clear political powder keg nature, but contextualize it into the realm of absurdity. Whether or not this strategy proves successful remains to be seen.

The Hunt Trailer

The new trailer for The Hunt is a testament to the power of editing, seemingly showcasing a different film than the straight-up horror offering showcased in the pre-schedule-pull trailer.

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Here’s the original trailer for the film, showcasing its now-altered marketing strategy for posterity.

The Hunt Release Date

The Hunt is now set to hit theaters on Friday, March 13.

The new date, presumably the film’s final one, will arrive six months after its originally-set September 27 release.

The Hunt Poster

Heralding the film’s resurrection, this poster for The Hunt perfectly showcases the absurdity of the hullabaloo over the film while also making the case for actually seeing it before any pre-judgments.

The Hunt Story

The film’s revived release touts the new tagline: “The most talked about movie of the year is the one nobody has seen … yet.”

Here’s The Hunt‘s official synopsis, which remains unchanged from last year:

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Twelve strangers wake up in a clearing. They don’t know where they are, or how they got there. They don’t know they’ve been chosen… for a very specific purpose … The Hunt.

In the shadow of a dark internet conspiracy theory, a group of globalist elites gathers for the very first time at a remote Manor House to hunt humans for sport. But the elites’ master plan is about to be derailed because one of the hunted, Crystal (GLOW), knows The Hunters’ game better than they do. She turns the tables on the killers, picking them off, one by one, as she makes her way toward the mysterious woman (two-time Oscar winner Hilary Swank) at the center of it all.

The Hunt Cast

The trio of headliners consist of: Hilary Swank (I Am Mother, Million Dollar Baby, et. al), Betty Gilpin (GLOW, Masters of Sex, Nurse Jackie) and Emma Roberts (American Horror Story). They are joined in the cast by Justin Hartley, Ike Barinholtz, Ethan Suplee, Amy Madigan and Glenn Howerton.

The Hunt Details

Lindelof wrote a script for The Hunt, partnered with Nick Cuse, son of his Lost visionary partner, Carlton Cuse. Their written work was subsequently placed into the hands of director Craig Zobel, who recently helmed TV episodes of Westworld, The Leftovers, American Gods and Outcast. Moreover, Zobel directed the 2015 dystopian actioner, Z for Zachariah, which starred Chiwetel Ejiofor, Margot Robbie and Chris Pine.

Additionally, director Zobel serves as an executive producer. Blumhouse head Jason Blum serves as a producer, joined in that same capacity by Lindelof himself, who does so on behalf of his (Lost-episode-named) White Rabbit company.

further reading: Blumhouse and the Risks of Original Filmmaking

The Hunt represents a higher tier of project for the usually schlock-centric Blumhouse, which reached the highest stratosphere of film industry acclaim with Jordan Peele’s Best Original Screenplay Oscar win for Get Out. The studio went on to produce an array of franchise-following films such as the 2018 Halloween sequel and The First Purge, and Peele’s Get Out follow-up, Us.

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As Universal expressed in a statement of its move to (as it turned out, temporarily) pull the film last year:

“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.”

Of course, the controversy leading to The Hunt‘s delay had crescendoed with President Donald Trump, who, in an uncommonly sweaty impromptu White House lawn press conference, railed against Hollywood for inciting racism and divisiveness. While he never mentioned any film specifically, it was clear he was referring to The Hunt, in which elites hunt human beings known as deplorables for sport. It would seem that the notion that the people being hunted might be depicted as the good guys and not the people hunting other human beings apparently never crossed POTUS’s mind.

Joseph Baxter is a contributor for Den of Geek and Syfy Wire. You can find his work here. Follow him on Twitter @josbaxter.