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Nate Parker’s ‘The Birth of a Nation’ Sells to Fox Searchlight in Biggest Sundance Deal Ever

Nate Parker's 'The Birth of a Nation' Sells to Fox Searchlight in Biggest Sundance Deal Ever

Nate Parker’s “The Birth of a Nation” sent shockwaves through the 2016 Sundance Film Festival last night: After premiering to prolonged standing ovations and plenty of critical acclaim, the slave revolt drama set off the fiercest bidding war Sundance has ever seen, as big distributors like The Weinstein Company and Netflix threw their hats in the ring to acquire the fest’s buzziest title. As first reported by Deadline, Fox Searchlight has come out on top, landing the drama in a record-breaking $17.5 million deal, the biggest purchase in Sundance history.

The film, a passion project for Parker, recounts the slave revolt led by Nat Turner in 1831. In addition to starring in the lead role, Parker wrote, produced and directed the film, which also stars Armie Hammer, Penelope Ann Miller, Jackie Earle Haley and Mark Boone Junior. 

Fox Searchlight has notoriously paid big for buzzy Sundance titles, but the $17.5 million purchase surpasses that of even the huge $10.5 million they threw down for “Little Miss Sunshine” in 2006. With a commitment for an awards season widescreen release, Fox Searchlight is clearly hoping to carry the film to next year’s Oscars, and that doesn’t seem like too much of a risky gamble, given the stellar reviews.

READ MORE: Amazon Lands Huge Deal for Sundance Sensation ‘Manchester By the Sea’

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Some black actors were named in this article?! My lord, the injustice! I’m never reading anything off of indiewire again! Arrrgh!


Oh joy. Now we can have our next 12 Years A Slave, have at least a couple black people nominated in 2017, and everything will be good again. Yay.


Did you literally only highlight the white actors in this aside from Nate Parker?


Kelly, I think that you missed David’s joke. It’s a play on how the Academy recognized Creed by only giving a nomination to Sylvester Stallone.

Kelly Dobbs

Thanks for only naming the white actors in a article about a slavery revolt film. I’m sure there are not any other black actors of note other than Parker.

David Manning

I would like to be the first to congratulate Armie Hammer on his upcoming Best Supporting Actor nomination.

Daniella Isaacs

Weinstein Co may have lost their touch anyway. They only got three nods out of HATEFUL EIGHT and couldn’t get CAROL over the hump for Picture and Director at the Oscars this year. Oh, and yeah, Harvey’s Scissorhands.


Despite Spike Lee being in the business for 20 years, garnering an honorary Oscar, and dissing "Django Unchained" as a "spaghetti western," Nate Parker’s first film ou the gate is film about slavery. Please explain, Mr. Lee.


Good thing that it was bought by Fox Searchlight because The Weinstein Company, while their films do garner awards season buzz, would’ve been cut up by Harvey Weinstein without Nate Parker’s permission. Fox Searchlight would give Parker some breathing room, not to mention the release pattern of the film would make it a major contender for next awards season.

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