Nate Parker‘s past has been following him for the past few months leading up to the release of his highly anticipated The Birth Of A Nation film. With stunningly low box office results over the weekend, it appears possible that controversy over Parker’s dismissed rape case had an effect on moviegoers.
Birth Of A Nation was expected to hit big after it debuted at the Sundance Film Festival at the top of the year, and was part of a bidding war that landed the film in the hands of Fox Searchlight for $17.5. As reported by the Hollywood Reporter, the film came at a time where several concurrent events might have had an impact on folks hitting the theaters.
Sundance Film Festival darling Birth of a Nation debuted to a disappointing $7.1 million from 2,105 theaters, capping weeks of controversy over Parker’s involvement in a 1999 rape trial. His slave-rebellion drama, placing No. 6, was always going to be a tough sell, but the imbroglio certainly complicated matters for Fox Searchlight. And the movie’s muted opening could further damage the film’s awards chances.
The overall box office took a small hit because of Hurricane Matthew, which slowed moviegoing in some parts of Florida, Georgia and the Carolinas. And Sunday night’s second presidential debate, where Republican nominee Donald Trump is certain to be asked about lewd and sexual comments caught on a hot mic, could also slow theater attendance.
Parker has been on a recent media run lately and hasn’t shied away from the rape allegations that he was later acquitted of. Parker and Birth co-writer Jean Celestin were accused of raping a classmate while at Penn State University in the late 1990s. The accuser committed suicide in 2012, although that information was made public recently.