- Jason Blum spoke to Insider about finally getting “The Hunt” in theatres after its original release date was pulled due to the mass shootings last summer.
- Blum said that the movie was almost released straight to streaming, but he held out for a theatrical run.
- The producer said he’s closely monitoring a Blumhouse project that’s currently shooting as the coronavirus spreads.
- Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.
This should be another milestone moment in the career of producer Jason Blum and his hugely successful Blumhouse Productions.
After having to pull the release of his latest thriller “The Hunt” due to multiple mass shootings last summer, the ultra-violent satire starring Hilary Swank and Betty Gilpin (Netflix’s “Glow”) that follows people being hunted for sport finally opens in theatres on Friday. However, it’s landing right when the number of coronavirus cases is growing every day.
This movie just can’t catch a break.
But despite the real-life fears spreading across the world that feels like something ripped from a Blumhouse low-budget thriller, Blum is proud that a movie like “The Hunt” is finally getting released.
Blum says ‘The Hunt’ almost went straight to streaming
Directed by Craig Zobel (“The Leftovers,” “Westworld”), “The Hunt” follows corporate elites who decide to collect a group of people and hunt them down with crossbows, guns, and booby traps (though there’s a twist as to why the group of people was chosen). Outside of the sensational violence, the movie is a commentary on everything from internet trolls to woke culture.
But after mass shootings over an August weekend in Dayton, Ohio, and El Paso, Texas, just over a month before the opening of “The Hunt,” the movie suddenly became a punching bag for conservatives who pegged it as being a movie about liberals hunting conservatives (no one had seen the movie yet). Even President Trump appeared to chime in, seeming to reference the movie when he called Hollywood “really terrible” and “racist,” then later that same day, tweeting, “the movie coming out is made in order … to inflame and cause chaos.”
Universal, the studio that is releasing “The Hunt” (and has a first-look deal with Blumhouse), decided to pull the movie’s September 27 release date. As months passed, Blum said there were serious discussions about just giving the movie a streaming release. But when it was finally time to choose, Blum dug in his heels and went with the theatrical release.
“As powerful and as big a deal as streaming is, you can’t have the impact of the culture through streaming that you can have with a theatrical movie,” Blum told Insider on Tuesday. “I really wanted that cultural impact with the movie so I held out to do a theatrical release.”
With a March 13 release date announced last month, marketing for “The Hunt” leaned into the controversy, as a new poster pegged it “the most talked-about movie of the year is one that no one’s actually seen.”
The stage was set for another hit for Blum, as he was certain people would head to the theatre and see for themselves what all the fuss was about. But the coronavirus is likely to put a damper on another Blumhouse success story.
Blum says he’s not expecting a big box office opening for ‘The Hunt’ because of the coronavirus
Blumhouse Productions has become an unlikely moneymaker in Hollywood thanks to Blum’s model of producing horrors and thrillers that have mass appeal but are made on a low budget. It has led to many of its releases going on to earn two times, three times, even four times (in the case of the company’s recent hit “The Invisible Man”) at the box office compared to what it was made for.
Over the decades, hits have ranged from the “Paranormal Activity” and “The Purge” movies to sensations like “Get Out” and “Split.”
However, Blum admits he’s not expecting a big weekend for “The Hunt,” as the spread of the coronavirus has caused health officials to recommend social distancing in several regions of the country (it also doesn’t help that the movie is sporting a Rotten Tomatoes score of 56% at the time of this story).
Blum said it’s tracking for a $US10 million opening (the movie has a $US14 million budget). “That would be a single, at best,” said Blum in how he would rate that kind of opening.
Blumhouse has one project currently in production and is taking precautions as the coronavirus spreads
In Hollywood, the next project can change your fortunes, and a few hours after Insider got off the phone with Blum The Hollywood Reporter broke the news that Blumhouse is developing a Dracula project with director Karyn Kusama (“The Invitation,” “Destroyer”).
Though the trade reported that it will be part of Universal’s Monsterverse franchise, which “The Invisible Man” is part of, a source with knowledge of the project told Insider that Universal is currently not involved. Blum even stated to Insider that there are “no strategic conversations between Blumhouse and Universal about doing monsters.”
But right now, all that seems less important. Blum and his team are currently keeping a close eye on a Blumhouse project in production while the coronavirus spreads. The cast and crew of that project are being monitored and have all been given guidelines from the Centres for Disease Control on how to stay healthy.
“It’s going to change everything, but not for a very long period of time,” Blum said of how the coronavirus will affect the industry going forward. “But in the short term, everything is going to change.”