Director Craig Zobel’s Trump-era satire “The Hunt” was delayed months by Universal Pictures following right-wing backlash against the movie’s perceived bias, and in the wake of mass shootings in summer 2019. By the time the movie came out in March of 2020, barely a week before theaters across the country shuttered due to Covid, response was muted, and it grasped only $16 million at the box office.

In a new interview with (via The Playlist), producer Jason Blum (also the head of production company Blumhouse) revealed his regrets over the firestorm surrounding the movie tanking its chances at a successful release. The movie, starring Betty Gilpin, centers around a group of strangers who are hunted for sport by elitists, working in the shadow of a dark internet conspiracy theory.

“The pre-release controversy of ‘The Hunt’ ruined the whole movie,” Blum said. “I mean, it ruined the release of the movie. ‘The Hunt’ was going to be a big hit movie, and the controversy before the movie destroyed the release of the movie. When I get asked what’s my biggest regret running the company, it’s that no one got to see ‘The Hunt’ because of that controversy. That controversy is horrible. It was bad. It was controversy about a movie no one had seen. People were making up stuff about a movie they had not seen, and I really hope it never happens again.”

Blum added, “I’m worrying about it happening before every movie. If we have controversy before a movie, it can wreck the release…But what can you do? I don’t worry too much. I can’t control it.”

Blum addressed the controversy ahead of the release of “The Forever Purge,” the final bow of a franchise comprised of one politically outspoken film after another. The latest installment in the violent movie series arrives in theaters on July 2.

“The Hunt” director Craig Zobel, who recently helmed the HBO miniseries “Mare of Easttown,” spoke out at the time of the movie’s release after Donald Trump singled it out as a product of Hollywood liberalism designed to influence politics. “I felt like it had been colossally misunderstood,” Zobel told IndieWire.

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