Universal Pictures has temporarily stopped advertising for the upcoming political thriller “The Hunt” in the wake of three mass shootings in the U.S. in just over a week.
“Out of sensitivity to the attention on the country’s recent shooting tragedies, Universal Pictures and the filmmakers of ‘The Hunt’ have temporarily paused its marketing campaign and are reviewing materials as we move forward,” the studio said in a statement late Wednesday.
The announcement came after The Hollywood Reporter reported Tuesday that the studio was reevaluating the movie’s advertising, and that ESPN had pulled the movie’s ads from the network.
Earlier Wednesday, a spokesman for the studio told HuffPost that the mass shootings did factor into a shift in the movie’s marketing campaign, but also that it is typical for a movie’s marketing to change in the lead-up to its release.
Set for release in September, “The Hunt” depicts a group of gun-toting strangers who find themselves part of a scheme in which “a bunch of elites kidnap normal folks like us and hunt us for sport,” as actor Ike Barinholtz says in the trailer.
Produced by Jason Blum’s Blumhouse Productions, which was also behind “Get Out” and “The Purge,” the movie stars Barinholtz, Betty Gilpin, Emma Roberts and Hilary Swank, among others. It was co-written by “Lost” and “The Leftovers” co-creator Damon Lindelof.
ESPN has pulled ads for the movie that were to continue running over the coming weeks, a source told The Hollywood Reporter, including one last weekend that “opened with a sound resembling an emergency broadcast signal.”
Representatives for the network did not respond to multiple requests for comment Wednesday.
This story has been updated with Universal temporarily pausing the movie’s ads.