TV ads for The Hunt, an ultraviolent political satire in which “elites” stalk and kill “deplorables”, have been pulled in the wake of the El Paso and Dayton mass shootings.

According to the Hollywood Reporter, cable network ESPN dropped an ad for the movie that was to air last weekend while studio Universal reassesses its plans for the film, which is due for release on 27 September in the US. The same publication says “a source” at ESPN said that no spots for the film would appear on the network “in the coming weeks”.

Produced by Blumhouse, the studio behind The Purge horror-satire series, and co-written by Lost showrunner Damon Lindelof, The Hunt is being marketed as another such horror, in which a group of 12 “ordinary” Americans find themselves hunted for sport by members of the “global elite” at a remote manor house “in the shadow of a dark internet conspiracy theory”.

The trailer for the movie is violent.

The Hollywood Reporter quotes a Universal executive saying that the studio was responding to the politically “fluid situation” amid a wave of protest in the US against gun violence and white supremacism and that it was discussing plans to change direction over the film’s promotion “if people think we’re being exploitative rather than opinionated”.

The film has not, reportedly, been without opposition inside the film industry. The Hollywood Reporter quoted one anonymous film-maker with “links to Universal” saying: “Employees in different departments were questioning the wisdom of making such a movie in these times … In light of the horrific [recent shootings], is this not the most craven, irresponsible, dangerous exploitation?”

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