Universal Pictures has decided to scrap the release of the upcoming film The Hunt after an apparent backlash from President Trump and Fox News over the satirical movie's depiction of conservative Americans being gruesomely hunted for sport by liberal "elites."
The decision to withhold the movie, which had been set to hit cinemas on Sept. 27, was also impacted by the recent mass shootings in El Paso, Dayton, and Gilroy, California — events that had already prompted studio executives to halt the violent film's marketing.
“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 spokesperson told BuzzFeed News in an email on Saturday. "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 website for the movie has now been shuttered, with only a copy of that statement remaining on the page. The film's trailer has also been taken down on YouTube by Universal Pictures, but copies still exist on other non-affiliated channels.
Universal's decision comes a day after President Trump appeared to tweet about the controversial movie.
"Liberal Hollywood is Racist at the highest level, and with great Anger and Hate!" he wrote Friday. "They like to call themselves 'Elite,' but they are not Elite. In fact, it is often the people that they so strongly oppose that are actually the Elite. The movie coming out is made in order to inflame and cause chaos. They create their own violence, and then try to blame others. They are the true Racists, and are very bad for our Country!"
The president also told reporters earlier on Friday that Hollywood was doing a "tremendous disservice" to the country due to its "very dangerous" movies.
His comments came after days of coverage about the film on his favorite channels Fox News and Fox Business, as well as right-wing websites and blogs.
Laura Ingraham spoke of the movie on her show on Wednesday night and said it "sounds like it something that already should have been pulled from production."
On Fox & Friends on Thursday, the movie was introduced as "a new movie about killing 'deplorables' — some calling it 'evil' and 'demented.'"
That night, Fox Business host and Trump supporter Lou Dobbs called it a "sick, twisted new movie," adding that the idea of "globalist elites hunting deplorables sounds a little too real.”
Dan Bongino, filling in for Sean Hannity on Friday night, also told viewers, "the Hollywood hate machine appears to be taking its anti-Trump derangement syndrome to disturbing new levels."
On Saturday morning, prior to the movie's release being scrapped, the weekend hosts of Fox & Friends again discussed the film. "How did a film like this even get made?" asked host Dean Cain.
The movie may still be released at a later date either in cinemas or on streaming platforms.
In addition to Oscar-winner Hilary Swank, the film stars Betty Gilpin, Emma Roberts, and Justin Hartley.
According to Variety, Swank told reporters Saturday at the Locarno Film Festival in Switzerland that she did not want to discuss the film.
"No one’s seen the film," she added. "You can’t really have a conversation about it without understanding what it’s about.”