Craig Zobel, director of ‘The Hunt,’ is speaking out for the first time since Universal canceled the film’s release, following the series of mass shootings in the U.S. The film depicts a group of elites who hunt “deplorables” for sport, and has gained mounting conservative backlash. Fox News commentators called it “sick” and “awful.”
In an interview with Variety, Zobel explained the film wasn’t intended to have a partisan message. He said his intent was actually the exact opposite. “Our ambition was to poke at both sides of the aisle equally. We seek to entertain and unify, not enrage, and divide. It is up to the viewers to decide what their takeaway will be.”
According to the publication, Universal suspended the marketing campaign for the film after the mass shootings in Gilroy, California, El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio. The decision sparked conservatives outrage, blasting the film and calling it a “liberal fantasy.”
Even Donald Trump weighed in, calling out “Hollywood’s racism” and saying the film aimed “to inflame and cause chaos.”
Zobel wrote in the email interview, “I wanted to make a fun, action thriller that 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. This rush to judgment is one of the most relevant problems of our time.”
The director said the film has been misunderstood and said it’s actually about partisanship, and how both sides fail to hear their opponents’ views fully. But he also said he supported Universal’s decision to delay the movie’s release in light of the gun massacres on August 3 and 4.
“I was devastated by going to sleep to El Paso and waking up to Dayton,” he wrote. “These types of moments happen far too often. In the wake of these horrific events, we immediately considered what it meant for the timing of our film. Once inaccurate assumptions about the content and intent of the movie began to take hold, I supported the decision to move the film off its release date.”