Thursday, May 26, 2022

‘Birth of a Nation’ Opening Weekend On Track for $7-$10 Million Despite Nate Parker Controversy

The Birth of a Nation
The Birth of a Nation

*The jury is still out on whether moviegoers will see “The Birth of a Nation” in light of director and star Nate Parker’s involvement in a 1999 rape case, but cinema owners don’t seem to be fazed by the controversy.

The film will open in roughly 2,100 theaters this weekend at the North American box office. Conservative estimates, according to The Hollywood Reporter, show the slave-rebellion drama opening in the $7 million-$8 million range, although some tracking services have it creeping toward $10 million.

Fox Searchlight had initially planned to open the film in just 1,500 to 1,800 locations, but decided to expand those plans after realizing that theater owners were not scared off by the controversy surrounding Parker. But it remains to be seen whether audiences will actually fill those screenings.

“Birth of a Nation” — one of the widest releases ever from Fox Searchlight — was a massive hit at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival, where the distributor paid a whopping $17.5 million for world rights to Parker’s directorial debut, the biggest deal in the fest’s history.

As part of the pact, Parker insisted that “Birth of a Nation” be given a wide release, meaning 1,500 theaters or more. Fox Searchlight agreed, even though it usually opens its titles in select theaters in order to build word of mouth toward a nationwide release. The danger of opening “Birth” nationwide is that it could disappear quickly, notes THR.

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