‘Birth of a Nation’ Purchased by Fox Searchlight, Becomes Biggest Sundance Deal Ever

Yesterday, The Birth of a Nation—a film about the 1831 slave revolt led by Nat Turner—premiered at Sundance Film Festival to instant acclaim. Our very own Jason Bailey described the drama as “a vital, stirring, and powerful film by and about people of color – and which arrives like a hand grenade in the midst of a deafeningly loud discussion about why that’s such a rarity in contemporary Hollywood.”

With the film’s writer, director, producer, and star, Nate Parker, already receiving significant Oscar buzz less than 24 hours after the film’s initial showing, it should be no surprise that the premiere of the film was followed by an extensive bidding war, in which companies like Paramount, Netflix, Fox Searchlight, and The Weinstein Company fought to buy the rights to the movie. Netflix is believed to have offered a whopping $20 million, but in the end Fox Searchlight came out the winner — securing the film’s rights for $17.5 million.

This is the most expensive deal to occur at Sundance. Previous record holder, the Abigail Breslin-starring Little Miss Sunshine—which was also secured by Fox Searchlight a decade ago—closed at a comparatively mere $10.5 million.

The Birth of a Nation also stars Armie Hammer, Penelope Ann Miller, Gabrielle Union, and Aja Naomi King.