Navy veteran Sturgill Simpson was set to make a Hollywood breakthrough with the September release of the "satirical social thriller" "The Hunt," but Universal Studios has canceled the movie after getting heat in light of the recent mass shootings in California, Texas and Ohio.
Betty Gilpin stars as the leader of a group of blue collar "deplorables" captured to serve as prey for a hunt organized for elites by a secret organization run by Hilary Swank. It's a plot that should be familiar to anyone who watches action, as it's been recycled repeatedly since the early days of movies, first appearing in the 1932 classic "The Most Dangerous Game" and most notably used again in John Woo and John-Claude Van Damme's "Hard Target" in 1993.
The film was produced by Blumhouse, a mini-studio that's given us many of the best horror movies of the last decade and crossed over with Oscar-winning fare like "Get Out" and "BlackKklansman." "Lost" and "The Leftovers" creator Damon Lindelof co-wrote and produced "The Hunt," so the signs don't exactly point to a cheap exploitation movie.
Simpson, who promptly began rebelling against the Nashville establishment the minute his singing career gained some traction, was aiming to make a splash as an actor in the movie. The Navy veteran seems to be snakebit with his attempts to cross over into the entertainment big time, so here's hoping the cancellation of his movie is only a temporary setback.
Here's the cancellation statement from Universal:
"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," the studio said. "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."
^^^^Universal Pictures is trying to scrub the internet of evidence this movie existed.
So, why cancel a movie you already knew was a bit edgy when you decided to make it in the first place? Turns out that some of our politicians don't watch many action movies and make the mistake of automatically defaulting to "Hollywood = Liberal."
Last week, Fox Business Channel hosts Maria Bartiromo and Lou Dobbs went on the warpath against the movie and were joined by Fox News' Laura Ingraham. These folks must not watch many action movies.
Dobbs hosted Pastor Robert Jeffress, who blamed the movie on "the Left" and claimed they planned to use the movie to promote "political divisiveness" in this country.
Fox News, owned by the Murdochs, should know better. Up until they sold out to Disney last year, the Murdochs produced and owned many of the better gun-fueled action movies in Hollywood history.
Anyone who watches action, horror, thriller and war movies knows that, overwhelmingly, they're not the product of any liberal agenda. Filmmakers like Michael Bay, David Ayer and Peter Berg (just to name a few of the most famous ones) represent a large group of Hollywood players whose mission is to bring excitement to the screen and honor the working men and women who fight our wars, fight our fires and police our streets.
It's a free country. Universal owns the movie and can do whatever it wants with it. But here's the thing: If "The Hunt" is a movie that shouldn't be seen because it highlights gun violence, then almost every single movie we've covered here for the last few years is equally guilty.
The working men and women who made this movie are dishonored by its cancellation. If it's good (and we don't know, since they didn't let anyone see it), then the audience who pays money to see these films is dishonored as well.
And that audience doesn't fit the "liberal" stereotype. People who go see action movies are the same people who wait in line for art movies, $6 espresso drink in hand. Those art movies are still showing in your college towns and big cities, and the rest of us are left to wonder about "The Hunt."