Producer Jason Blum on ‘The Hunt’ Rescheduling: ‘If the Controversy Gets More People to See It, That’s Okay with Me’

Jason Blum'Fantasy Island' film premiere, Arrivals,
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Jason Blum’s Blumhouse Productions has ruled the box office when it comes to the horror genre in recent years, so when “The Hunt” cancelled its planned September 2019 release, it was a major shock.

The film — a satiric thriller that follows a group of liberal elites who try to track down and kill “red state” conservatives for sport — sparked controversy and was shelved in August following the Dayton and El Paso mass shootings. It also drew the ire of President Donald Trump, who (though he did not name the film) insinuated via Twitter that “the movie coming out is made in order to inflame and cause chaos.”

At Tuesday’s Los Angeles premiere of Blumhouse’s latest thriller, “Fantasy Island,” Blum reflected on the news announced earlier in the day that “The Hunt” will be hitting theaters after all this March. 

“I always check the reactions online,” the producer told Variety. “I’ve been [reading] a lot and I think this time around a lot of the people who wrote [about] the movie have now seen the movie and I’m very happy so far how it’s been written about because it’s being understood much better this time as a satire –– which is what it is.”

Variety was on hand Tuesday when Universal screened “The Hunt” for journalists, ultimately reintroducing the film with a new trailer and poster aimed at the controversy, labeling it “the most talked about movie nobody has ever seen.”

Blum added that Tuesday’s news was welcome for the film’s actors who were “obviously sad” when the movie was taken off the schedule. “They were thrilled that people are going to see their really hard — and I think, brilliant — work,” he said.

As for whether the producer thinks all the drama will help or hurt the film at the box office, Blum said, “If the controversy gets more people to see it then that’s okay with me.” 

If there’s one thing Blumhouse Productions knows how to do, it’s getting audience’s attention. From “Paranormal Activity” and “The Purge” to “Split” and “Get Out,”  the production company has made their mark by creating low budget films that almost always make waves (and money) at the box office. It’s a model that “Fantasy Island” director Jeff Wadlow says ultimately comes down to creative freedom.

“Jason protects his filmmakers,” Wadlow explained. “He gives you a small budget and he says ‘You’re not getting anymore.’ But as long as you stay within those parameters, you can do whatever you want, and I think that’s why his films often work so well. Because people are allowed to take risks and a lot of people in Hollywood aren’t taking those risks.” 

“Having that artistic trust is everything,” Lucy Hale, star of “Fantasy Island,” said of Blumhouse. “They own the genre. Nobody does it better because they can take these [with] big movie concepts, make it for less, but it still looks big.”

“Fantasy Island” marks Hale’s second film with Blumhouse and Wadlow, after collaborating with the duo on 2018’s “Truth or Dare.” “Fantasy Island” follows a group of lucky guests — including Michael Peña, Jimmy O. Yang, Ryan Hansen, Portia Doubleday, Michael Rooker and Austin Stowell — who land at a remote tropical resort expecting their secret fantasies to come to life, but instead quickly falling into their own nightmares. The film, which hits theaters on Valentine’s Day, is an adaptation of the 1970s television series of the same name. 

Wadlow added, “The original series was quite dark, people seem to forget that, and so we really pushed the envelope with this film. It’s a Blumhouse movie so we had to do it. … the scares just come organically.”