The Birth of a Nation failed to hit its desired $10 million mark at the box office this past weekend.
The disappointing box office numbers—$7.1 million in total—caps an arc that started with the film’s warm Sundance reception and an unprecedented $17.5 million deal that was forgotten once Nate Parker’s 1999 rape trial resurfaced. Poor reviews and a baffling media run further sealed its fate.
Other descriptions of how poorly this movie did: “flopped,” “struggled” and “tanked.” The Los Angeles Times threw a bone, stating that Birth of a Nation simply met expectations but added that its Oscar chances are probably dead.
While Girl on a Train took in $24.7 million to lead the box office, Birth of a Nation came in sixth. Despite the mediocre opening, the film reportedly tracked well with black moviegoers in major cities. Via Deadline:
Sources tell Deadline that in several African American neighborhood theaters in Baldwin Hills, New York, Atlanta, Baltimore, Chicago and Norfolk, Birth of a Nation was the No. 1 title. In addition, Birth of a Nation overperformed in the south. ‘A’ grade movies typically generate a 3.6x multiple, and with an opening this low, Birth of a Nation will likely land a final domestic tally that’s under $30M. That’s not enough for a movie that carries an estimated P&A between $10M-$20M and an acquisition price of $17.5M.
An anonymous studio exec told Deadline, “This movie with its strong themes of uprising arrives at a very interesting time in our country. Without the filmmakers’ controversies, it’s a story many would feel compelled to see. And it’s a shame that’s not happening.”