SUNDAY AM UPDATE: Final number was as I predicted — $7.1 million. Hubris killed this former Oscar favorite. This was a missed opportunity. I feel bad for Fox Searchlight because they didn’t know what was happening. But they have Pablo Lorrain’s “Jackie” in their back pocket. Is there any way to save “Birth”? Just thinking of SAG Q&A’s makes me want Mylanta, on ice.
SAT AM: “Birth of a Nation” is DOA more or less after a lackluster Friday opening. Nate Parker’s excellent film took in just $2.6 million last night, eyeing a weekend of $7 million if they’re lucky.
The controversy over Parker’s 2001 rape acquittal and the subsequent scandal– including the suicide of the accuser in 2012– has done the film in.
On top of that, Parker’s mishandling of the publicity this week, his refusal to apologize for anything or even appear contrite, threw fat on the fire. Instead of looking like someone who was sorry and rehabilitated, Parker came across as angry. That was the last straw. I’m totally surprised about how this has gone.
Fox Searchlight bought “Birth of a Nation” for $17 million, the biggest payday at Sundance ever. They’ve probably spent another $20 million marketing it. To get to $40 million– that seems difficult. If the movie had caught on, if the black community had rallied to it, if historians had declared it a “must-see” movie…if, if, if.
And is there an international market for “Birth”? Unlikely.
Now it’s hard to compare, but “12 Years a Slave,” with crazy great publicity and Oscars etc only made $56 million domestically. Abroad it actually made $131 million, which is outstanding. But that again was with all the bells and whistles, and no negatives. So “Birth” is pretty much over, I’m afraid. What a shame.