Craig Zobel opens up about The Hunt release turmoil
It’s been a crazy six months for the satirical action-thriller The Hunt, with Universal Pictures pulling its marketing and original release date in the wake of mass shootings in a similar vein to 2013’s Gangster Squad, only for the studio to surprise everyone in February with the reveal of a March theatrical release date. While director Craig Zobel (Compliance) originally felt “shock” at the initial delay, he has opened up about the tumultuous road it’s taken toward its upcoming March debut.
In an interview with Playboy, which will also be part of its upcoming spring issue centering on free speech, Zobel revealed that despite the outcry from some critics in the preceding months, Universal has stood by him and writers Damon Lindelof (Watchmen) and Nick Cuse (The Leftovers) and always intended on bringing the film to screen.
“Hearing that Universal had decided to date the film for release again was a feeling of relief,” Zobel described. “Most of all, it’s been a challenge to talk about your intentions with a project when nobody can actually see the project. I’m excited to get the film out there where everyone can make decisions about it for themselves.”
The 44-year-old director did feel a “little surprised” by the first trailer that debuted for the film last year, believing it “certainly didn’t help us because it didn’t quite tell the story” and felt that people were most likely misinterpreting things as they “didn’t have any information other than what was in the trailer.“
“The first thing that went through my mind when I heard the film was pulled was shock at the irony,” Zobel said. “I felt like if I could talk to someone and remind that that the film was primarily concerned with internet trolls — that the things happening to the film were also happening in the film — that someone would laugh and go, ‘Okay, yeah, we shouldn’t pull it.’ Then I realized that we’d crossed a threshold where that wasn’t gonna help.”
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 group of globalist 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 (Betty Gilpin, GLOW), 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 (two-time Oscar winner Hilary Swank) at the center of it all.
Joining Emmy nominee Betty Gilpin (GLOW, The Grudge) and Oscar winner Hilary Swank (Million Dollar Baby, Reaping) in the film are Ike Barinholtz (The Oath), Emma Roberts (American Horror Story), Justin Hartley (This is Us), Glenn Howerton (It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia), and Oscar nominee Amy Madigan (Twice in a Lifetime).
From Jason Blum, the producer of Get Out and The Purge series, and Damon Lindelof, co-creator of the TV series The Leftovers and Lost, comes a new mysterious social thriller.
The Hunt is written by Lindelof and his fellow The Leftovers’ collaborator Nick Cuse and is directed by Craig Zobel (Z for Zachariah, The Leftovers). Blum produces for his Blumhouse Productions alongside Lindelof. The film is executive produced by Zobel, Cuse and Steven R. Molen.
Originally set to hit the theaters on September 27, 2019, the Betty Gilpin and Hilary Swank-led film will now make its long-awaited debut on Friday, March 13.