Worldwide rights to actor-director Nate Parker’s slave-rebellion drama The Birth of a Nation, were picked up by Fox Searchlight at the Sundance Film Festival for $17.5 million, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
The film, which premiered Monday afternoon in Park City, Utah, to multiple standing ovations, has become the highest price paid for a film at Sundance.
Fox Searchlight beat escalating bids from The Weinstein Co., Netflix (which insisted on a day-and-date theatrical and streaming debut), Paramount and other suitors, according to THR. Netflix and its deep pockets reportedly helped drive up the bids of “Birth” in the overnight auction.
Parker wrote, directed and stars in the project, which is based on the story of Nat Turner, an American-born slave who led the most successful slave rebellion in American history.
When Birth premiered Monday at Eccles Center, there was a standing ovation that lasted throughout the entire credits. It continued as Parker, who also produced the film, took the stage for the Q&A.
“I made this film for one reason — with the hope of creating change agents,” Parker told the audience. That people can watch this film and be affected. That you can watch this film and see that there were systems that were in place that were corrupt and corrupted people and the legacy of that still lives with us. I just want you, if you are affected and you are so moved, to ask yourself, ‘Are there systems in my life that need attention, whether it be racial, gender?’ There are a lot of injustices.”
Soon after, several buyers were in the mix, with expectations that the bidding could likely become the highest of this year’s fest. A heated bidding war went on through the night, with at least seven interested parties, including several studios.
As THR previously reported, Parker quit acting for nearly two years to work on getting financing for Birth, which also stars Armie Hammer, Aja Naomi King, Jackie Earle Haley and Gabrielle Union.