Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom was an instant hit in South Africa.

According to sources, the biopic based on the autobiography of the anti-apartheid leader and former South African President opened at number one and set a new record.

Deadline reports moviegoers in Mandela’s homeland reportedly took the day off work to attend screenings in cities and in the countryside. The Videovision Entertainment release landed at the top of the box office with “751,000 rands ($73,747) for a per-screen average of 8,620 rands ($858). That’s about 23,000 admissions and is a record for a non-holiday Thursday, according to Videovision.”

During an interview at the Toronto International Film Festival last month, star Idris Elba said playing Mandela was a “massive challenge.”

“I didn’t want to deface Mr. Mandela in any way, but I didn’t want to portray him in a way that wasn’t honest… the challenges were massive, but we embraced them,” he revealed.

“It was important we had both sides, the good and the bad,” he added. “He had a very difficult life, so we weren’t expected to make an easy film.”

The movie has received stellar reviews from critics. Stephen Holden of the New York Times said, “Mr. Elba is completely convincing as a natural leader with a ferocious drive.” Peter Travers of Rolling Stone wrote, “In those moments when Elba shows the doubts, compromises and complications that make the man, we get glimpses of a life truly lived.” And Jocelyn Noveck of the Associated Press agreed, stating, “Elba has so inhabited the character that you might be stunned to see photos of the real man, during credits, and realize the extensive physical differences.”

Mandela: A Long Walk To Freedom opened in U.S. theaters Friday, November, 29. If you’ve seen the film, tell us your thoughts on the project, below.


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