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‘The Hunt’ director says his controversial film was meant ‘to poke at both sides’

Universal pulled the controversial film after a pair of mass shootings and criticism online.

Universal pulled the controversial film after a pair of mass shootings and criticism online.
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SALT LAKE CITY — “The Hunt” director Craig Zobel said he still hopes his controversial film will be released in theaters, especially because it wasn’t meant to be about political violence.

Zobel told Variety he wouldn’t have made the film if he thought it would create political violence.

“If I believed this film could incite violence, I wouldn’t have made it,” he said.

“Our ambition was to poke at both sides of the aisle equally,” he said. “We seek to entertain and unify, not enrage and divide. It is up to the viewers to decide what their takeaway will be.”

Zobel said the film was meant to shine a light on the country’s political division.

“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,” Zobel said. “This rush to judgment is one of the most relevant problems of our time.”

According to Fox News, “The Hunt” was originally billed as a satirical film about wealthy liberals who decide to hunt down and kill humans. The Hollywood Reporter identified those fictional human victims as “MAGA” types. The film was originally going to be titled “Red State Vs. Blue State.”

One character reportedly says in the film, “Nothing better than going out to the manor and slaughtering a dozen deplorables.”

As I wrote for the Deseret News, Universal originally pulled the film from its release date after mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio.

But “The Hunt” producer Jason Blum says he hopes the film will be released in theaters.

“I learned a lot of lessons… If I was offered the choice to make the movie again, I would say yes,” Blum told Vulture. “We definitely made marketing mistakes, and we made plenty of mistakes along the way. So I’ve learned a lot. It might change how I would position movies and how I would consult on the marketing of the movies. But actually the making of the movies? No.”