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Universal Cancels “The Hunt” After Mass Shootings in Ohio and Texas

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  • Following recent mass shootings in the U.S., Universal Pictures canceled the release of The Hunt, a movie where “liberal elites” hunt mostly Southern people from conservative states for sport.
  • President Donald Trump criticized the project on Twitter without naming it, saying “Liberal Hollywood is Racist,” and adding that the movie was created to “inflame and cause chaos.”
  • Many echoed concerns that the film promotes politically charged violence, but others said the canceling of a movie is less important than passing gun reform laws.

Universal Cancels The Hunt

Universal Pictures canceled the release of The Hunt on Saturday, saying “now is not the right time to release this film” after two mass shootings have increased political tensions across the country.

The Blumhouse film, starring Betty Gilpin, Hilary Swank, and Emma Roberts was set to release on September 27. It was co-written by Damon Lindelof, who helped create shows like Lost and The Leftovers.

The trailer opens with Gilpin’s character walking into a gas station and killing the owners after they try to shoot her when she tells them she doesn’t know where she is. From there, Gilpin’s character learns she has been kidnapped and must survive while being hunted by a mysterious group of people.

The film frames itself as a satirical take on the short story “The Most Dangerous Game” and presents mostly white, working-class people from conservative states as the prey of “liberal elite” hunters who are killing them for sport.

“Your idea is incredible,” a male elite says in the film’s trailer.

“I can’t argue with that,” Swank’s character tells him. “We pay for everything, so this country belongs to us.” 

“It’s just business: hunting human beings for sport,” the man says.

“They’re not human beings,” Swank’s character responds before laughing.

Characters in the film also refer to the people being hunted as “deplorables,” a reference to a statement made by then-presidential candidate Hillary Clinton during the 2016 election.

“You know, to just be grossly realistic, you could put half of Trump’s supporters into what I call a basket of deplorables,” Clinton said.

During development, the movie went under the working title Red State, Blue State.

Critics of the project said the movie stokes the current U.S. political divide with violence Before universal announced the movie’s cancellation, President Donald Trump agreed with that sentiment and denounced the movie.

The movie coming out is made in order to inflame and cause chaos,” Trump tweeted. “[Liberal Hollywood] create[s] their own violence, and then try to blame others. They are the true Racists, and are very bad for our Country!

Universal’s Official Statement

The cancellation follows Universal’s decision to scrap promotional marketing only a week after releasing the trailer at the end of July. The trailer has since been deleted from the studio’s YouTube channel, but versions still exist online. The move also comes about a week after mass shootings in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio.

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 film’s website reads. “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.”

“I fully support the decision by Universal and the filmmakers regarding ‘The Hunt.’ It is a choice that I also personally felt was necessary,” Swank told USA Today after the cancellation. “I can’t comprehend the violence happening in our country right now. We should all focus on healing, and above all else, kindness, sensitivity and humanity.”

Universal hasn’t announced any plans to release the movie at a later date or in another way, though the cancellation has drawn parallels to The Interview, where James Franco and Seth Rogen infiltrate North Korea to kill Kim Jong-un. The film was similarly canceled back in 2014 after pressure from North Korea but is now available online for rent or purchase.

Responses

Following the cancellation, many still shared their concerns about the content depicted in the film, saying that violence does not mean satire.

Singer Charlie Daniels also referenced the belief that violent films and video games, in part, are connected to the increase in mass shootings across the country.

Actor Russell Crowe and others pushed back in different ways, saying that canceling a movie won’t solve gun-related issues the country already faces.

While I commend Universal and Blumhouse for their humanity,” the actor said. “This is not the solution.”

Crowe also tweeted that “any adult can still buy a military grade semi-automatic rifle.” While many adults can buy semi-automatic rifles, most can not access their military-grade variants.

Others still echoed similar thoughts.

See what others are saying: (Hollywood Reporter) (Deadline) (Washington Post)

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Jodie Sweetin Releases Statement After Getting Pushed By Officers at Pro-Choice Protest: “This Will Not Deter Us”

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“Love everyone out there in the streets fighting for what’s right,” she wrote on Instagram.


Actress Pushed at Protest

After viral footage showed Jodie Sweetin getting pushed to the ground by officers with the Los Angeles Police Department while attending a pro-choice protest, the “Full House” actress said demonstraters “will continue fighting” for their rights. 

Sweetin was attending a protest off the 101 freeway on Saturday following the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.

Photojournalist Mike Ade, who captured the video, said the actress was “trying to lead a group of peaceful protestors away from the freeway” when officers pushed her. Sweetin was standing on a curb when she was pushed and fell down on the cement road. Ade wrote that she was “fortunately…okay.”

Ade shared a handful of other videos depicting officers using similar tactics on other protesters. As these videos started circulating online, many became outraged by the LAPD’s response to the protests.

Sweetin Addresses Incident

Following the incident, Sweetin released a statement where she said the fight against the court’s decision is not over. 

“I’m extremely proud of the hundreds of people who showed up yesterday to exercise their First Amendment rights and take immediate action to peacefully protest the giant injustices that have been delivered from our Supreme Court,” Sweetin said. “Our activism will continue until our voices are heard and action is taken. This will not deter us, we will continue fighting for our rights. We are not free until ALL of us are free.”

Sweetin also shared footage of the incident and other clips of officers clashing with protesters on her Instagram story. She cheered protesters in a comment on a video of the push shared by a social justice group called The Progressivists.

“Love everyone out there in the streets fighting for what’s right,” she wrote.

According to a statement obtained by Deadline, the LAPD is looking into the matter. 

“The LAPD is aware of a video clip of a woman being pushed to the ground by officers not allowing the group to enter on foot and overtake the 101 freeway,” the statement said. “The force used will be evaluated against the LAPD’s policy and procedure.”

See what others are saying: (Deadline) (Rolling Stone) (The Hollywood Reporter)

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Dave Chappelle Decides Against Having Former High School’s Theater Named After Him

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“The idea that my name will be turned into an instrument of someone else’s perceived oppression is untenable to me,” the comedian reportedly said.


Theater Named Announced

Comedian Dave Chappelle opted on Monday to not have the theater at his alma mater high school named after him, according to a report from The Washington Post

The Duke Ellington School of the Arts in Washington D.C. previously planned to name its theater in honor of Chappelle, as he is a distinct alum and donor. While Chappelle formerly said such a gesture would be “the most significant honor of [his] life,” he announced during Monday’s naming ceremony that it would bear a different title. 

The school’s theater will instead be called the Theater for Artistic Freedom and Expression. 

A naming ceremony was initially set to take place in November, but was postponed after the comedian began facing backlash for transphobic jokes in his Netflix special “The Closer.”

Among other things, he said he was “Team TERF,” which stands for trans-exclusionary radical feminist. He also made a joke about Caitlyn Jenner and remarks comparing the genitalia of transgender women to Beyond and Impossible meat.

The jokes embroiled Chappelle in controversy, and reports claimed that some students at Duke Ellington took issue with the comments. When Chappelle ended up visiting the school amid the scandal, Politico reported that one student told the comedian, “I’m 16 and I think you’re childish, you handled it like a child.”

Chappelle Defends Controversial Special 

According to The Post, Chappelle said the criticism against him “sincerely” hurt, but added that “the Ellington Family is my family.” He claimed he did not want the theater being named after him to distract students. 

“The idea that my name will be turned into an instrument of someone else’s perceived oppression is untenable to me,” he said according to Josh Rogin, a columnist for the outlet.

Rogin also tweeted that Chappelle took time out of the ceremony to slam the criticisms levied against him, accusing upset students of promoting someone else’s agenda. 

“These kids didn’t understand that they were instruments of oppression,” he reportedly said. 

“You cannot report on an artist’s work and remove artistic nuance,” Chappelle continued while denouncing the press coverage of his Netflix special. 

According to David Frum, a staff writer for The Atlantic who attended the ceremony, Chappelle suggested he was open to potentially adding his name to the theater at a later date when the community is ready. 

See what others are saying: (The Washington Post) (Variety) (The Atlantic)

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Chris Evans Says People Upset With Same-Gender “Lightyear” Kiss Are “Idiots”

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The kiss was previously removed from the film until a surge of backlash from Pixar employees prompted Disney to reinstate it. 


Chris Evans Supports “Lightyear” Scene

“Lightyear” star Chris Evans is standing against people who have criticized the same-gender kiss scene in the upcoming Pixar film. 

“The real truth is those people are idiots,” the actor told Reuters this week when discussing negative reactions to the scene’s inclusion. 

“The American story, the human story is one of constant social awakening and growth and that’s what makes us good,” he continued. 

Countries like Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Qatar, and more have banned the release of “Lightyear” over the kiss, which is between two women. Right-wing pundits in the U.S. have also slammed it, and user reviews for the picture on websites like IMDB have claimed that movie-going has “become an avenue for political propaganda.”

Evans argued those opinions are outdated. 

“There’s always going to be people who are afraid and unaware and trying to hold on to what was before. But those people die off like dinosaurs,” he said. “I think the goal is to pay them no mind, march forward and embrace the growth that makes us human.”

“Lightyear” hits theaters on Friday starring Evans as the titular Buzz Lightyear. Evans, however, is not playing the action figure made famous in the “Toy Story” movies and is instead playing an animated human astronaut who inspired the toy.

Kiss Scene Almost Never Made it to Big Screen

According to outlets that have reviewed the film, the same-gender kiss is between Alisha Hawthorne, a character voiced by Uzo Aduba, and her wife. 

Multiple reports have stated that Disney was always supportive of depicting a gay couple in the picture, but was more hesitant about showing an on-screen kiss between the two. The studio previously had the scene removed from the film until a swell of backlash prompted it to reinstate the kiss.

The decision came in March amid criticisms over Disney’s slow response to Florida’s controversial “Don’t Say Gay” bill. At the time, a group of Pixar employees wrote an open letter claiming that they have pushed for more inclusion in their films, but “nearly every moment of overtly gay affection is cut at Disney’s behest.” 

Now that the scene made the final cut of “Lightyear,” it has been a large topic of conversation leading up to the film’s release. On Monday, Evans told Variety that the inclusion of the scene makes him “happy,” but he hopes one day, scenes like this will be considered standard. 

“It’s tough to not be a little frustrated that it even has to be a topic of discussion,” he said. “That it is this kind of ‘news.’ The goal is that we can get to a point where it is the norm, and that this doesn’t have to be some uncharted waters, that eventually this is just the way it is.”

See what others are saying (Reuters) (Variety) (IndieWire)

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