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‘The Hunt’ director speaks out for first time since controversial film’s release was canceled


Craig Zobel, seen here in 2015, is speaking out about the cancellation of his film, "The Hunt." (Chris Pizzello/Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

The director of “The Hunt” is coming to the defense of his politically charged film after its scheduled release was axed by Universal Pictures.

In his first comments since its cancellation, director Craig Zobel told Variety that the movie ? which centers on elites hunting down other people identified as “deplorables” ? is meant to satirize the entire political landscape.

“If I believed this film could incite violence, I wouldn’t have made it,” Zobel told the entertainment outlet in an e-mail.

He contended to Variety that the thriller starring Emma Roberts and Hilary Swank, which was due out on Sept. 27, has been misconstrued.

“Our ambition was to poke at both sides of the aisle equally,” he told the outlet. “We seek to entertain and unify, not enrage and divide. It is up to the viewers to decide what their takeaway will be.”

Before officially canceling the release on Aug. 10, Universal had put marketing for “The Hunt” on hold following the mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, on Aug. 3 and Dayton, Ohio, on Aug. 4.

The movie had been the subject of conservative criticism. A day before the cancellation, President Trump condemned “Liberal Hollywood” but did not specifically name “The Hunt.”

“Liberal Hollywood is Racist at the highest level, and with great Anger and Hate!” Trump tweeted Aug. 9. “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!”