Nate Parker’s slave rebellion drama, The Birth of a Nation, faltered at the weekend box office by opening with a dismal $7.1 million. The Sundance Film Festival favorite placed at No. 6 on the charts, with The Girl on the Train topping off the list with $24.7 million.
Fox Searchlight bought the film for $17.5 million with hopes that it would be a top contender during awards season and be the answer to the #OscarsSoWhite controversy. Unfortunately, Parker’s directorial debut was overshadowed by a 1999 rape trial where he and his Birth of a Nation co-writer, Jean Celestin, were accused of rapping a classmate at Penn State University. Parker was acquitted and Celestin’s case was overturned on appeal.
Black Hollywood is still rallying behind Parker and the film, showing support on social media. On Sunday, Oscar nominee Taraji P. Henson captioned the film’s poster with, “YES @origi_nate YES YES YES!!! Thank you!!!”