Friday, March 13, 2020

The Hunt - Ike Barinholtz, Betty Gilpin, Emma Roberts & Hilary Swank

The most talked about movie of the year is the one nobody has seen … yet.

Twelve strangers wake up in a clearing. They don’t know where they are, or how they got there. They don't know they’ve been chosen… for a very specific purpose … The Hunt.

In the shadow of a dark internet conspiracy theory, a group of elites gathers for the very first time at a remote Manor House to hunt ordinary Americans for sport. But the elites’ master plan is about to be derailed because one of The Hunted, Crystal (Betty Gilpin, GLOW), knows The Hunters’ game better than they do. She turns the tables on the killers, picking them off, one by one, as she makes her way toward the mysterious woman (two-time Oscar® winner Hilary Swank) at the center of it all.

From Jason Blum, the producer of Get Out and The Purge series, and Damon Lindelof, creator of the HBO series Watchmen and co-creator of the TV series Lost, comes a timely and provocative new satirical thriller that has already ignited a national conversation. Now, it’s time to decide for yourself.

The Hunt is written by Lindelof and his fellow Watchmen collaborator Nick Cuse and is directed by Craig Zobel (Z for Zachariah, The Leftovers). Blum produces for his Blumhouse Productions alongside Lindelof. The film is executive produced by Zobel, Cuse and Steven R. Molen.

In Theaters March 13, 2020
Genre: Action-Thriller
Cast: Ike Barinholtz, Betty Gilpin, Emma Roberts and Hilary Swank
Director: Craig Zobel
Writers: Nick Cuse and Damon Lindelof
Producers: Jason Blum, Damon Lindelof
Executive Producers: Craig Zobel, Nick Cuse, Steven R. Molen, Couper Samuelson and Jeanette Volturno 

Conspiracy Culture
Paranoid Fantasies Go Mainstream

Like many in the country following the 2016 election, producer and writer Damon Lindelof and executive producer and writer Nick Cuse became “politically obsessed.”

In the course of their many conversations about the polarized political climate and growing mistrust of traditional media and government institutions, the two began discussing several of the conspiracy theories that had begun percolating from the fringe corners of the internet into the mainstream consciousness.

The sudden rise in popularity of these incredible stories about what was really going on below the surface of daily life was particularly fascinating to them. “After the election, it felt like there was just a massive shift in conversation,” Lindelof says. “And we became very interested in conspiracy theories and the idea that these once-fringe ideas had really gone mainstream. This area of what is conspiracy theory and what is fact started to get very, very confusing since there was some great storytelling happening in these conspiracies.”

As storytellers themselves, the screenwriting duo naturally dove into the rabbit hole and looked around. “We didn’t set out to make some statement or write something conspiratorial or political,” Cuse says. “The key was always just to make it really fun and entertaining. We were just writing about what was interesting to us, and I think because of the political climate and times we’re living in, a story that felt like it touched on the some of the themes of the real world moments we’re all experiencing was just more interesting and entertaining to us.”

The frightening and dark premise of The Hunt sprang from exploring the most intriguing questions that arose during their journey through the murky corners of the conspiracy world. “We wondered where these stories and theories were coming from,” Lindelof says. “What kind of people believed in them? And why did they believe them? The ultimate genesis of what ended up becoming this story was: ‘What if one of these outside conspiracy theories was not true, but the people who are being accused of it decided to make it true as vengeance for what the rumor did to their lives? It was pretty much a runaway horse from there.’”

Photo Credit: Benjamin Shmikler
Hilary Swank, Betty Gilpin and Peter Cramer attend as Universal Pictures presents a special screening of THE HUNT at the ArcLight in Hollywood, CA on Monday, March 9, 2020.
Picture Two: Ike Barinholtz and Peter Cramer

A New Dangerous Game
Drawing Inspiration from a 1930s Classic

The 1932 RKO classic, The Most Dangerous Game, is the earliest and perhaps best-known film in a dark sub-genre of suspense thrillers and horror: the hunting humans movie. In The Most Dangerous Game, an insane Russian Count Zaroff (Leslie Banks) arranges for shipwrecks off the coast of the remote island where he lives so that he can hunt and kill the surviving passengers. The film’s success spawned the remakes A Game of Death (1945) and Run for the Sun (1956) and created a genre of human-hunt-themed films that served as an inspirational touchstone for films in every decade since then, including The Naked Prey (1965), Deliverance (1972), Southern Comfort (1981), The Game (1997), Battle Royale (2000) and The Hunger Games franchise (2012-2015), among others.

“There’s a long tradition of movies where people are being hunted for sport and The Most Dangerous Game is certainly the most wellknown,” Damon Lindelof says. “There were many influences swirling around when we wrote The Hunt. There are elements of Deliverance in this movie. Deliverance is a classic film, where it’s city boys in over their heads when they run afoul of country boys. That idea of people being a fish out of water, out of their element, largely came from Deliverance. I would say the best way to describe The Hunt is its bones are an action-thriller-suspense movie with a very high-violent body count, but at its core, it’s a satire. I don’t want to sound pretentious, but our ambition was to do something in the vein of Dr. Strangelove or, in a more contemporary way Get Out, where we were making some commentary on the political moment, but hopefully one that is a Trojan horse inside something vastly entertaining.”

Lindelof and Nick Cuse knew the key to making the story work was explaining The Hunters’ motivation. “We wanted to have a really good reason for whoever was hunting people to be hunting people,” Cuse says. They eventually found that rationale in the 5th Amendment of the United States Constitution—by way of director Bruce Beresford’s 1999 suspense-thriller Double Jeopardy, which stars Ashley Judd as a woman convicted for her husband’s murder who decides to hunt him down when she finds out he’s alive and had framed her. She can’t be charged twice for the same crime, so she can, in fact, get away with murder because she’s already been found guilty of it. “We thought: ‘What if you apply the idea to a conspiracy theory, where you’ve already been accused of a conspiracy of hunting people, and that accusation has ruined your life, so why not just do it because people already believe that you’re doing it anyway?’” Cuse says.

Lindelof and Cuse, who have collaborated on the series Watchmen and The Leftovers, say the driving force behind their subversive and often darkly humorous writing essentially lies in their ongoing attempts to shock and amuse each other. “When Damon and I talk about any story idea, the thing we try to do to each other is get each other to laugh,” Cuse says. “When we have an idea and we’re both laughing about it, we know we’re on to something.” 

Photo Credit: Benjamin Shmikler
Producer Jason Blum, Betty Gilpin, Ike Barinholtz and Hilary Swank attend as 
Universal Pictures presents a special screening of THE HUNT at the 
ArcLight in Hollywood, CA on Monday, March 9, 2020.

Jason Blum is an Academy Award-nominated and two-time Emmy and Peabody Award-winning producer. His multi-media company, Blumhouse Productions, pioneered a new model of studio filmmaking: producing high-quality micro-budget films. Blumhouse, which is in the midst of a ten year first look deal with Universal Pictures, has produced films like the highly profitable The Purge, Insidious, Ouija and Paranormal Activity franchises which have grossed more than $2 billion at the worldwide box office. Blum recently produced Jordan Peele’s Get Out which has grossed over $150 million domestically and earned a rare 100% on Rotten Tomatoes and M. Night Shyamalan’s Split which has grossed over $260 million worldwide. The company’s model began with the original Paranormal Activity, which was made for $15,000 and grossed close to $200 million worldwide, making it the most profitable film in Hollywood.

Universal Pictures is an American film studio, owned by Comcast through its wholly owned subsidiary NBCUniversal, and is one of Hollywood's "Big Six" film studios. Its production studios are at 100 Universal City Plaza Drive in Universal City, California. Distribution and other corporate offices are in New York City. Universal Studios is a member of the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA). Universal was founded in 1912 by the German Carl Laemmle (pronounced "LEM-lee"), Mark Dintenfass, Charles O. Baumann, Adam Kessel, Pat Powers, William Swanson, David Horsley, Robert H. Cochrane, and Jules Brulatour.

It is the world's fourth oldest major film studio, after the renowned French studios Gaumont Film Company and Pathé, and the Danish Nordisk Film company. Six of Universal Studios' films; Jaws (1975), E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982), Jurassic Park (1993), Despicable Me 2 (2013), Furious 7 (2015) and Jurassic World (2015) achieved box office records, with the first three (which were directed by Steven Spielberg) all becoming the highest-grossing film at the time of its initial release.
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