Nate Parker’s long-gestating Nat Turner biopic The Birth of a Nation is headed for Sundance history: Deadline reports that Fox Searchlight has purchased the film for a record-setting $17.5 million, the highest any film has ever gone for at Sundance. The previous record was held by Little Miss Sunshine, which sold for $10.5 million in 2006. Reports say the deal for Birth of a Nation — a film about Turner’s 1831 slave rebellion, which Parker wrote, produced, directed, and stars in — will give it a widescreen release during awards season. The biggest deal in festival history happened in 2014, at Cannes, when Focus Features paid $20 million for Tom Ford’s Nocturnal Animals. The Weinstein Company, Netflix, and Sony were reportedly all locked in a bidding war for Birth of a Nation overnight, with figures close to that all-time festival-record mark. As Vulture’s Kyle Buchanan has noted, Birth of a Nation would be Fox Searchlight’s only current film starring an actor of color slated for this year.
The Birth of a Nation. Photo: Bron Studios