SALT LAKE CITY — Universal decided to cancel “The Hunt” after receiving negative feedback during one of its test screenings, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
On Aug. 6, Universal held a test screening for the film at a theater in California. It was only the movie’s second screening. Test audience members didn’t love the film. In fact, “audience members were again expressing discomfort with the politics” of the movie, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
Universal executives and filmmakers received death threats through email and social media on the same day. The company decided to end the marketing campaign thereafter.
“Sources say the studio’s internal security force became involved, but outside law enforcement was not alerted. It appears that Universal did not foresee the maelstrom to come, including round-the-clock Fox News segments and tweets by President Trump seemingly directed at the title,” according to The Hollywood Reporter.
Other studios were worried about releasing the film, too, THR explained. Executives at Universal were worried about the project, too. That’s why all political leanings were kept out of the initial marketing materials.
“Sources say the studio leadership was reluctant to cave to the outrage of those who have not seen the finished film. But the mass shootings changed the calculus, rendering what studio sources believe was a biting satire into a project so toxic, it wasn’t worth the headaches,” according to THR.
As I wrote for the Deseret News, “The Hunt” became a subject of the wider internet community after ESPN decided to pull its ads for the film in the wake of the El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, mass shootings.
President Donald Trump reportedly weighed in on the film through Twitter, too. And, soon enough, Universal had dumped the entire project.
Sources told The Hollywood Reporter that Universal may still be interested in releasing the film at a later date.