So the lingering question about the historic 17.5 million dollar sale of this film is…why didn’t Nate Parker sell this to Byron Allen for his 20 million dollar offer? Why let this film get in the hands of the white folks over at Fox Searchlight for 2.5 Million less than a black owned media company? Especially a film about a slave revolt?
I asked myself the same question until I gave it more thought. I also read an article written in the Hollywood Reporter that gave me some much needed insight. Here are some excerpts from the article…
Birth came to Sundance with big expectations, with many major buyers seeing it as an Oscar contender, especially given the controversy surrounding the past two years of #OscarsSoWhite hashtags. Parker, 36, quit acting for two years to realize the passion project that he wrote, produced, directed and toplined. He put in $100,000 of his own money to fly around the country to talk to anyone who might want to finance it. A dozen investor groups — which included former NBA player Michael Finley and San Antonio Spurs star Tony Parker — cobbled together the film’s $10 million budget.
For Parker, his main focus was not just the money, but finding the right fit for his film. “My responsibility to the project is to make sure to find a partner that is as passionate as we are about it socially, so if that meant we had to take less money, then those were conversations I was willing to have,” says Parker, who would not speak about specific suitors that did not submit the winning bid.
Multiple sources say there had indeed been a higher bid: Netflix offered $20 million for all rights but was insisting on a day-and-date streaming/theatrical release like it did with Beasts of No Nation last fall. At a Sundance fest that has been dominated by streamers Amazon and Netflix, such a massive offer must have been tantalizing. But sources say Parker and the producers wanted a large theatrical experience, so, similarly to the premiere, people would be rallied to action.
Parker says Searchlight was open to hearing all his ideas about how the film should be released, including his hope for it to be shown in high schools and colleges around the country. He opted for their package, then went to bed at around 6 a.m. (he had a panel in the morning) and let Taylor close the deal as the sun rose.
“It just felt like we were speaking the same language,” says Parker of Fox Searchlight. “There were sentences that were being finished on both sides, and the dialogue just flowed.”
The message is most important and black people need to see it. I understand the frustration with the film being sold to Fox Searchlight, but the reason for that is their ability to place it on a larger scale platform for more of “us” to see the film. Like it or not, whites still control the film industry. Searchlight put out 12 years a Slave and The Butler. To the naysayers…did you support those films? If so, that’s why he chose Fox. They agreed to have this film showcased at highschools and colleges. Byron Allen is currently suing the FCC for racial discrimination now, because they are not letting him through the door. We still have work to do people.
So while we keep breaking down doors, let’s not block ourselves from getting our voices heard even while using their platform to do it.