‘The Birth of a Nation’ Just Landed the Biggest Distribution Deal in Sundance History

By Sameer Rao Jan 26, 2016

Fox Searchlight purchased Nate Parker’s "The Birth of a Nation" for $17.5 million dollars. The sale—the result of an overnight bidding war after the film’s Sundance Film Festival screening—set the record for most expensive film purchase ever made at the Sundance Film Festival.

Bids came in immediately after the film’s Sundance premiere screening yesterday (January 26), according to Deadline. Both Deadline and Variety reported that bids went as high as $20 million from Netflix.

"The Birth of a Nation" dramatizes Nat Turner’s leadership of an armed rebellion to free enslaved African-Americans in antebellum Virginia. Parker, who stars as Turner, also produced, co-wrote, directed and partially financed the film. The film also stars Gabrielle Union, Aja Naomi King and Armie Hammer.

Fox Searchlight previously distributed "12 Years A Slave," which won an Oscar in the "Best Picture" category in 2014. Variety and Deadline both reported that many Sundance attendees believe "The Birth of a Nation" to be an early Oscar contender, especially given the #OscarsSoWhite controversy that led to the Academy revising its voting protocol.