I recognize it’s a bit crass to talk about next year’s Oscars before this year’s have been handed out, but that’s the chatter that has been surrounding “The Birth Of A Nation” ever since it debuted at the Sundance Film Festival last month. The picture was acquired in a record-breaking $17.5 million deal by Fox Searchlight, and the studio has made their intentions clear about the movie.
They’ve set the film to open nationwide on October 7th, a date that firmly puts the picture into the awards season. The Nate Parker directed movie about a slave rebellion in the Antebellum south will be facing some formidable competition from Universal‘s Emily Blunt starring thriller “The Girl On The Train,” and the Ben Affleck starring “The Accountant.” And while 20th Century Fox still has the Channing Tatum comic vehicle “Gambit” slated for that date, considering it hasn’t started production yet, no one believes that date is going to hold.
Given the October bow, you can probably expect Fox Searchlight to run hard with “The Birth Of A Nation” at the fall festivals to build up fresh buzz, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Telluride and TIFF are already battling over who will land the picture. And while you might question whether or not the studio can sustain the momentum of the movie all the way to the Oscars next year, just remember they’re coming off a similar run with “Brooklyn.” Consider it a contender.