Slave Revolt Drama ‘Birth of a Nation’ Sells to Fox Searchlight for $17.5 Million in Record Deal

Sundance 2016: It’s a new record for the festival, where the film drew multiple standing ovations at the Eccles

Birth of a Nation Sundance
courtesy of Fox Searchlight

Fox Searchlight is closing a record-breaking deal to acquire worldwide rights to Nate Parker’s “Birth of a Nation” for $17.5 million, an individual with knowledge of the situation has told TheWrap, which first reported Fox Searchlight’s whopping bid.

The sum is believed to be the most paid for any film in Sundance history, and reflects a bidding war driven by deep-pocketed streaming giants like Netflix and Amazon.

The deal calls for a wide release from Fox Searchlight, which has proven it can handle racially-charged dramas, having released Best Picture winner “12 Years a Slave.”

“Birth of a Nation” received multiple standing ovations during its debut at the Eccles during the Sundance Film Festival on Monday and could be an awards contender next year.

WME Global handled the bidding war, which also included the Weinstein Company, Sony and Netflix. The latter offered $20 million to outbid all of the traditional distributors. In the end, the filmmakers took less money, but went with a proven entity — indie powerhouse Fox Searchlight.

“Birth of a Nation” arrives at a time when Hollywood is eager to embrace an empowering story from a promising director of color, coming on the heels of the #OscarsSoWhite controversy that ignited due to a lack of diversity among this year’s Oscar nominees.

“Birth of a Nation” stars Parker as Nat Turner, who led a 48-hour slave rebellion against his white masters. Armie Hammer and Aja Naomi King co-star alongside Jackie Earle Haley and Jayson Warner Smith.

Catch our exclusive interview with Nate Parker below: