'The Hunt' Director Addresses Decision to Shelve Film in the Wake of Mass Shootings

'We seek to entertain and unify, not enrage and divide,' stresses Craig Zobel as he explains why he supported Universal Pictures in pulling the release of their controversial film.

AceShowbiz - Craig Zobel, the director of "The Hunt", agreed to pull the release of the controversial film following the tragedies in Texas and Ohio, even though he still thinks the action thriller deserves to be seen.

The film, which centres upon a sporting manhunt as a well-off group tracks down and kills 12 strangers, was deemed too explosive for the current climate following seven days of mass shootings in America earlier this month (August 19).

Zobel insists he never set out to make a film that might incite violence, but he understood why the release of the movie had to be pulled.

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

"I wanted to make a fun, action thriller that satirised 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."

"I was devastated by going to sleep to El Paso and waking up to Dayton (shootings). 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."

Studio chiefs at Universal immediately paused the marketing campaign for the satirical horror movie after more than 30 people were killed in two separate mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton, and they then decided to shelve the release altogether out of consideration for the victims and survivors.

"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," a statement from Universal read. "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."

"The Hunt" was due to hit U.S. cinemas on September 27.

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