The nation is still traumatized following two mass shootings this past weekend. In the wake of the tragedy, ads for a gun-centric film from horror production company Blumhouse have begun to be pulled.
On Saturday, a gunman killed 22 people at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas. Hours later, another gunman opened fire in Dayton, Ohio, killing 9 in the city’s nightlife district.
Just prior to the two acts of violence, Blumhouse released a trailer for their upcoming film The Hunt, which spotlights an elite liberal group hunting a group of consevative strangers for sport.
Produced by Jason Blum (Get Out, The Purge) and Damon Lindelof (The Leftovers, Lost), the film stars Ike Barinholtz, Betty Gilpin (Netflix’s Glow), Emma Roberts, Hilary Swank and Justin Hartley (This Is Us). Universal Pictures describes the film as follows:
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 bunch of 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 (Gilpin), 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 (Swank) at the center of it all.
Following the shootings this weekend, The Hollywood Reporter states Blumhouse and Universal are reevaluating their marketing plan. On Saturday, ESPN pulled the film’s ad, which featured an opening scene with an emergency broadcast signal. However, AMC still ran with an ad for the film during The Preacher Sunday night.
A Disney rep declined to comment on pulling the ad from ESPN, but they told THR that no TV spots would appear for the film in the coming weeks. Universal and Blumhouse declined to officially comment, but an unnamed “high-level Universal Source” did give THR an update.
The anonymous source revealed the studio pulled online ads “for content and placement,” while other sources tell the site it’s still being discussed internally.
“A high-level insider” revealed executives want to stand by Blum and view the project as a satire addressing a social issue. However, the same source says plans could change “if people think we’re being exploitative rather than opinionated.”
While the trailer is already online, the Universal source stated a major ad push was scheduled for early September, but it’s unclear if this will proceed at this time.
This past September, the film’s release date was set for Feb. 14, 2019. While many view the date as Valentine’s Day, it’s also a day where many members of the Parkland, Florida community lost their lives.
On Feb. 14, 2018, a shooter opened fire in Stoneman Douglas High School, killing 17 and injuring 17 others. Since then, survivors haven’t sat by idly, launching efforts for gun control including March For Our Lives.
Fred Guttenburg’s 14-year-old daughter Jaime was one of the victims. He took to social media to voice his concerns over the horror film’s planned release date. Guttenburg spoke with film executives who agreed to move the release date to Feb. 13 and suspend advertising and showings in Parkland.
The Hunt opens Sept. 27, and you can view the trailer should you wish to do so below.