Universal Pictures has cancelled the release of a film about liberal “elites” hunting humans for fun after Donald Trump accused producers of inciting violence.
Universal had already suspended its marketing campaign for the The Hunt, starring two-time Oscar winner Hilary Swank and Betty Gilpin, following mass shootings in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio earlier this month.
The controversial film follows a group of “deplorables” who wake up in a clearing and realise they are being hunted for sport,
In a statement released late on Saturday, the studio said "after thoughtful consideration" it was cancelling the September 27 release altogether.
The decision came a day after Mr Trump accused producers of being “racist” and trying to “inflame and cause chaos.” “Liberal Hollywood is Racist at the highest level, and with great Anger and Hate! They like to call themselves “Elite,” but they are not Elite,” he tweeted on Friday.
"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 violent satirical thriller, directed by Craig Zobel and produced by Jason Blum’s Blumhouse Productions, stars Betty Gilpin as the leader of a group of “ordinary folks” who are kidnapped by “elites” to be used as human game.
It had been due for release on September 27.
The script by writers Damon Lindelof and Nick Cuse riffs ruthlessly on current political divisions in the United States.
Elite “hunters” refer to their quarry as “deplorables”, a term Hillary Clinton infamously used to refer to Donald Trump supporters, and the original title was "Red State Vs. Blue State," according to the Hollywood Reporter.
Its marketing campaign included a mock advertisement for “five star” human hunting holidays, and a blood-spattered trailer that sees Gilpin fighting her way to safety using a variety of firearms and improvised weapons.
Mr Zobel has described the film on Twitter as a “fun, funny action movie” designed to showcase Ms Gilpin’s talent.
“It’s really not super dark. Well, after you get past the premise of hunting people for sport… “ he wrote on Twitter on August 2.
But the film has drawn bitter condemnation from conservative pundits, who accuse it of glorifying violence against Trump supporters.
And its violent “satire” sits uneasily in a country reeling from a recent the string of mass shootings that left more than 30 people dead.
Three people were killed by a gunman carrying an assault rifle at a garlic festival in Gilroy, California, on July 29. On August 3, a lone gunman killed 22 people and injured 24 others at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas, on August 3.
The following day nine more people were murdered by another mass shooter in Dayton, Ohio.
The murders have inflamed debate around gun control and anti-immigrant rhetoric, both flash points in great political rift dividing “liberal” and “conservative” America.
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Patrick Crusius, the 21-year-old killer in El Paso, told police that he was targeting “Mexicans,” leading some to accuse Trump of normalising White nationalists with anti-immigrant rhetoric.
Universal Pictures said: "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."
"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."