Nate Parker’s “The Birth Of A Nation” Struggles At Box Office
Nate Parker’s slave-rebellion drama, The Birth of A Nation, did not do as well as expected. Reportedly, the film had hoped to cross $10 million in its debut, but was beat out by ‘Girl on the Train,’ starring Emily Blunt, who placed No. 1 domestically.
The film was a Sundance Film Festival favorite, but only debuted at $7.1 million from 2,105 theaters. Some speculate that the coverage centering around Parker’s involvement in a 1999 rape trial, may have swayed viewers not to see the film.
Reportedly, the overall box office took a small hit because of Hurricane Matthew, which affected some parts of Florida, Georgia and the Carolinas.
As previously reported, over the past few months, Parker made headlines over a 1999 trial in which he and Jean Celestin, who co-wrote Birth of a Nation, were accused of raping a classmate at Penn State University. Parker maintained the sex was consensual and was acquitted. Celestin was convicted, with the case being overturned on appeal. Just days after Parker made new comments about the incident in , it was revealed that the accuser committed suicide in 2012.
The Birth of a Nation is a period drama film based on the story of Nat Turner, the enslaved man who led a slave rebellion in Southampton County, Virginia, in 1831. The film is co-written, co-produced and directed by Nate Parker (in his directorial debut) and stars Parker as Turner, with Armie Hammer, Aja Naomi King, Jackie Earle Haley, Penelope Ann Miller and Gabrielle Union in supporting roles. Parker also petitioned financiers to invest in the film, ultimately getting a $10 million production budget and started filming in May 2015 in Georgia.
The film premiered in competition at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival on January 25, 2016. Fox Searchlight Pictures bought worldwide rights to the film in a $17.5 million deal, the largest deal at the film festival to date. At the end of the festival, it won the Audience Award and Grand Jury Prize in the U.S. Dramatic Competition and was highly praised for its directing, acting, soundtrack and cinematography.
Birth of a Nation has yet to open overseas.
P.S. Do you think the rape controversy affected the film’s box office numbers?