Weekend Box Office Oct. 7-9 (So How Did ‘Birth of a Nation’ Do?)

"The Birth of a Nation"

“The Birth of a Nation”

Last weekend, I broke down the reasons for the weak box office opening of “The Queen of Katwe”. A week later, I will attempt to do so again – this time with Nate Parker’s “Birth of a Nation”. The film opened on 2105 screens across the country, which is the sixth largest release for any film released by Fox Searchlight, but it came in sixth place grossing only $7.1 million, the lower end of box office analyst expectations.

Depending on the drop-off in the coming weeks, which I predict could be steep, the film could gross in total around $20 million, which could make it a loss for Fox Searchlight, who spent $17.5 million to acquire the independently produced and financed film, and probably spent almost equal that amount on marketing.

So what happened? Let us count the ways, shall we?




— Slavery: I argue that this was a greater impediment for the film than the controversy over the rape case involving Parker and co-writer Jean McGianni Celestin (but I’ll get to that in moment). How many times have we heard from black film-goers that they are sick and tired of films centering on slavery? One can understand that opinion. Black history and people are lot more than just slavery, and there are endless stories of black heroism, courage, survival, and pride that have nothing to do with slavery, but they’re not making enough movies about that.

And “Nation” tells the story of a slave rebellion which ended in failure. It’s not a fantasy like “Django Unchained” in which the hero kills all the white people as well as the sell out, bootlicking Uncle Tom slave, and then blows up the plantation, riding off into the sunset with his sweetheart. “Django” is not realistic by any means, but it’s how we wish it had really played out in real life. But In “Nation”, it all ends with Turner getting lynched. Not exactly a coming-out-of-the-theater-feeling-good movie. And it’s a wildly historically inaccurate film as well, as Parker takes some creative liberties with the real story. Turner’s rebellion was an extraordinary, fantastic real-life occurrence. So if a filmmaker isn’t going to tell the story of Nat Turner exactly as it happened, then why bother making it? It should also be noted that it wasn’t the only slave rebellion that happened either. There were even larger rebellions – like in Louisiana, in 1811, which involved hundreds of slaves.

— The rape case controversy: There was always a question of how the rape controversy from Parker’s past would effect the film. Certainly Parker often didn’t help himself early on, when he spoke or wrote about the issue, seemingly painting himself as the victim, while showing little remorse for the woman at the center of it all, who would commit suicide years later. In fact one wag said “Who’s doing Parker’s PR? Chris Brown?”.

A few days ago, The Hollywood Reporter reported that even Oprah Winfrey and Gayle King, who actually both loved the film, reached out to Parker to offer support and guidance on how to address the controversy, including suggesting he give an interview to King on her CBS morning show. But he rejected their overtures, convinced that he had nothing to apologize for. He also rejected the advice of professional PR and media strategists who Searchlight hired to coach him – at first agreeing to acting on what they advised, but then doing the exact opposite.

And Searchlight wasn’t operating in the dark. They were fully aware of Parker’s past when they purchased the film at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year. According to people I know who attended the festival, the rape case was on the mouths of many at the festival the day after the film premiered. But Searchlight evidently thought that it wasn’t going to be much of an issue. However, clearly they were wrong, given all that’s happened since then.

For a lot of people, it was an issue; especially for black women conflicted about seeing the film. They wanted to support the film, but were disgusted by what Parker had done, although Parker was acquitted. Some female friends told me that they either had decided not to see the film, or would pay for a ticket to see “The Magnificent Seven” and instead go to the theater showing “Nation”, so that neither Searchlight nor Parker would get any of their money as a form of protest. There is no hard evidence, but I believe that many women were reluctant to see the film because of Parker’s past, though they probably will watch it later on home video.

— It’s just not good enough: Yes the film got rapturous raves at Sundance, even a reported standing ovation before the premiere screening at the festival, which maybe should’ve been a sign that something was up. Well, as Vulture revealed, the majority of people in the audience for the first screening of “Nation” were actually people who worked on the film, or were involved in putting up the money for it, so naturally they’re going to give a standing ovation before they saw it.

And it didn’t hurt either that the film was first seen at a time when #OscarsSoWhite uproar was at its peak, so distributors were looking for any black film that could be remotely considered as Oscar bait, and “Nation” seemed to fit the bill at the time, causing a stampede of offers to acquire the film.

However, the reality is that, even at Sundance, there were some people openly saying that they weren’t all that impressed with the film, adding that it had problems, and showed evidence of a first time director, unsure of himself behind the camera. The reviews that came out over this weekend, when the film opened, have been, for the most part, respectable, but not enthusiastic; and it’s gotten some negative reviews as well. Some people I know who have seen it, didn’t like it, or were sorely disappointed in the film for not being the emotional, earth shattering event that they were led to believe it was. This could affect word of mouth.

Although for a counter to their reactions, read Andre Seewood’s enthusiastic review of the film (published on this blog yesterday), here.

Certainly “Nation’s” Oscars chances have been greatly diminished. However, Oscar voters still concerned about the lack of diversity at the Academy Awards next year, have other black films to pick from, including “Fences”, which will almost certainly get nominations in every major category; there’s also Barry Jenkins’ “Moonlight” and Fox’s “Hidden Figures”. And Fox Searchlight is now shifting its Oscar focus away from “Nation” and to “Jackie” instead – the Natalie Portman film about the life of Jacqueline Kennedy shortly after the assassination of her husband, President John Kennedy, which is an Oscar bait movie if ever there was one.

How will all of this affect “Nation” and Parker in the long run? It will most likely be seen as both a case of a film and a filmmaker that got caught up in a media-driven, manufactured frenzy that perhaps wasn’t deserved. As for Parker, he’s currently in “movie jail”, not just because of the past accusations of rape, but also the box office disappointment of “Nation”. However, if the film somehow becomes a big box office hit, perhaps overseas, then that would definitely change his fortunes. But right now, it’s uncertain if the film will do well internationally. He currently has another project set up at Legendary Pictures that could be stuck in “development hell” permanently, and maybe not be made. But he could do what worked for him before, and to try to make another film independently; and I can safely predict that whatever it is won’t tell a slavery era story, and he’ll just stay behind that camera as the director.

But as weak as “Nation” is doing at the box office, it’s nowhere as bad as the disaster film “Deepwater Horizon”, which is turning out to be perhaps the biggest box office bomb of the fall. The film, which opened last week, ended up in third place, with $11.7 million, and a total of $38.5 million so far. However, the film’s budget reportedly ballooned up to $156 million, which means that it has a long, long way to go, just to break even; even if you add up the overseas box office numbers, which are at $27 million so far. It’s going to be another huge loss for Lionsgate, who need a real box office hit soon, with the end of “The Hunger Games” franchise last year.

The number one film this week was “The Girl on the Train”, based on the best selling book, dubbed by one critic as “Gone Girl if it was written by a 12 year old”. Needless to say, the book has resulted in a bad film, which got terrible reviews; but it did well enough to be No. 1 this weekend, earning $24.6 million, which is ok for a film the cost under $40 million to make.

Last week’s No. 1 film “Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children” was No. 2 this weekend, with just over $51 million here in the States, and over $96 million worldwide; while “The Magnificent Seven” is still holding up well (maybe thanks to all the black women who bought tickets for it, but saw “Nation” instead) in fourth place, earning $75 million domestically, and $115 million worldwide. It’s likely headed for at least another $40 million domestically, and another $60-$70 million overseas.

Meanwhile “The Queen of Katwe” unfortunately dropped even lower on this weekend, while “Don’t Breathe” continues to hold up well, with $131 million worldwide, making the $9 million film one of the most financially successful films of the year.

This weekend’s top 12 grossing films follow below:




1) The Girl on the Train Uni. $24,660,000
2) Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children Fox $15,000,000 Total: $51,053,483
3) Deepwater Horizon LG/S $11,750,000 Total: $38,518,388
4) The Magnificent Seven (Sony $9,150,000 Total: $75,915,393
5) Storks WB $8,450,000 Total: $50,118,494
6) The Birth of a Nation FoxS $7,100,000
7) Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life LGF $6,900,000
8) Sully WB $5,270,000 Total: $113,485,432
9) Masterminds Rela. $4,100,000 Total: $12,788,325
10 7 Queen of Katwe BV $1,618,000 Total: $5,384,636
11) Don’t Breathe SGem $1,350,000 Total: $86,921,355
12) Suicide Squad WB $1,110,000 Total: $322,533,924

75 Comments

  1. Porky Pig bursts through a bass drum and yells… “Th-Th-Th-Th-Th-… That’s all, folks!” That’s right, even a fat pig with a severe stutter knows when the fat lady has sung. I mean, after removing the voices of the wannabe something special Sundance crowd, the film “The Birth Of A Nation”, just like Porky the Pig, with his no pants wearing self, lay naked, exposed to the world for all to see what it really was or really ain’t.

    And you called it Sergio, when the dust cleared it was simply a slave film in which few were eager to see. And, aside from the controversy, it simply was not that great of a film (so I’ve heard). That’s right, I didn’t drop my dollars b/c I couldn’t find a reason to do so. B/c personally I view movies for their entertainment value and I knew, for various reasons, I wouldn’t find this slave flick to be entertaining.

    That said, I did enjoy watching the slave flicks, Django, The Butler and Selma. They each had great actors (I find that entertaining), good directors ( I gotta have one) and an engaging well told story. On the other hand, “Nation” didn’t appear to have any of my “must have” entertainment values.

    Anyway, I don’t think ol’ Nate is crying in his milk. Oh no, b/c “he who laughs last, laughs best” and Mr. Parker did bank a cool 17 Million… before Porky the Pig and the fat lady showed up.

  2. How noble for some of us to protest this movie when we generally label women as gold diggers if the accused is a man who entertains us in the black community. Rape and abuse allegations didn’t matter for Tyson, Kobe, Dre, Tupac, OJ, etc., but we somehow always manage to find sympathy for alleged victims when the accused is someone we hold a grudge against. Bill Cosby is guilty because he tells the truth about blacks and we don’t like it. Nate Parker is only guilty because he’s in love with a white woman–you know it and I know it.

    • Maybe Birth could be some sort of a financially success if the brothers who took their white wife/girlfriend to see Compton, ride along or intelligent take them to see Birth of Nate Parker.

  3. Ryan Coogler and Ava the only ones going to get bank rolled moving forward. “Black artist prove to me and my high standards why you deserve my hatred.” Why will anyone support your art with hate like this.

  4. This movie will not gross $20m. Box office attendance will drop by at least 33% per week in the ensuing weeks, if not by 50-60% in week 3.

    At most, this movie’s grossing $12m domestically and it’s all Nate Parker’s fault. He had a great opportunity and he blew it by refusing to deal with his PR situation and its increasing negativity. “It’s not what you know, it’s what you can prove,” and Nate Parker failed to allay the ambivalence of the moviegoing public. Icarus did it to himself.

  5. We were not interested in seeing this film, long before the controversies of Parker came to light. We are simply not interested in spending a night out to watch a film about slavery, revolt or not.
    Further, this is not an unknown story to us, as the filmmakers have declared. My partner and I are both in our thirties, and can not remember not knowing about Nat Turner. I specifically remember reading about him in my very white high school, and he was discussed in the dozens of black history month events we went to as young people. I even recall the phrase “going Nat Turner” being bandied about as kids, when someone would talk about trying to revolt against something. All that to say, it is not a “new” or unknown story that can only be learned about in this somewhat fictionalized film. The importance of this film is being over exagerrated, in my opinion.
    Further, I have grown tired of being lectured about what films I “need to see/support” as a black person, about our history. There have been books, essays, public events, lecture series, etc. about topics like Turner, the Tuskeegee Airmen etc. FOR YEARS. My family has participated in them, as a part of our every day lives. And frankly, I trust these types of learning spaces much more than I do major films that are first and foremost, a money making endeavor.

    • Your experience is not universal. I went to white schools and never, ever, ever heard about a slave rebellion, certainly not Nat Turner. I didn’t become aware of him until I was in my late 20s. The knowledge you take for granted is heavy food for others. They deserve an opportunity to get their mind sparked about something unfamiliar in order to dig deeper and learn.

      • Who you blaming not knowing about Nat until your late twenties, the mind is a terrible thing to waste, waiting for the media to teach you history.

        • SAY IT LOUD Mark & Darla! Really, those who depend on a MOVIE, no less, as their basic source of knowledge, are setting themselves up as pawns who are easily lead in the wrong direction.

      • HI Michiline,
        I do not think my experience is universal. I shared it, however, because I don’t believe that this film should be credited for telling an unknown story when many black people have been “telling it” for decades. And many black people know it well.
        I will say, however, that I wonder why people often do not go to the events that I mentioned earlier (black history month celebrations, library events, university lectures etc.) that discuss our history with accuracy, detail, and enthusiasm. I wonder why so many great books about our history sit on the shelves, unread.
        There are so many black intellectuals, advocates, activists, and artists who produce wonderful works and opportunities for us to engage.
        We don’t have to wait for a multi million film that white people laude at film festivals….
        If we don’t know our history, I would argue, we aren’t engaging with the many opportunities that we have to learn it.

  6. My wife and I enjoyed it. However, we are unapologetically black and proud. We applaud the execution of storytelling, and don’t concern ourselves much with the mainstream values, acceptance, accolades, and awards.

  7. This is so sad. I’ve been wanting to see a film about Nat Turner ever since I learned about him in middle school. The fact that 12 Years A Slave grossed millions upon millions and The Birth of A Nation has only grossed $7M this weekend is upsetting and frustrating.

    • ’12 Years’ had a larger budget and Brad Pitt appearing/producing.
      Keep in mind Parker made ‘Birth’ for about $7M, then the studio just brought it.
      When I went to see it, I was one of five in the audience(Friday afternoon) , and two others were a white couple.
      Maybe it would have done better if not for Parker’s past.
      I dug it.

  8. Forrest Gump and Porky Pig applaud 119 as they step to the mic. Forrest, never the one to waste words, says “That’s all I have to say, about that”. and then hands the mic to to the pig who is seen bobbing his head in approval of 119’s opinion. The confident, yet stuttering pig gives 119 a head nod of appreciation, then starts in on the readers Eric and Troy…. “Don’t take th-th-this ass-whoopin’ p-p-personally, air-air-Eric and Troy, but wa-wh-what the hell wa-was you tryin’ to say? If y-yo-you was slinging mud, pl-pl-please explain yourself cuz y’all d-d-didn’t make much sense. Bill Cosby is guilty because he tells the truth about blacks and we don’t like it???? WH-WH-WTF? Why will anyone support your art with hate like this??? W-W-what-the-hell… hate like what? Th-Th-Th-Th-Th-… that’s all, folks!” ** drops the mic**

  9. I can’t stand this Monday morning quarterbacking that is always done when a blk film doesn’t do well at box office

    This is the first slave film that shows resistance

    I saw the film and it is a damm powerful film

    People applaused at the end

    White America is not ready for the film

    And blk people are too asleep to support

    • “This is the first slave film that shows resistance”

      Obviously you’ve never heard of or seen Halle Gerima’s film Sankofa or Gillo Pontecorvo’s film Burn! with Marlon Brando and Evaristo Márquez. I could even argue that Django Unchained is one as well

  10. I can’t stand this Monday morning quarterbacking that is always done when a blk film doesn’t do well at box office

    This is the first slave film that shows resistance

    I saw the film and it is a damm powerful film

    People applauded at the end

    White America is not ready for the film

    And blk people are too asleep to support

    • Yeah we heard you the first time. And I would have “Monday morning quarterback” the film even it it did $40 million over the weekend and you wouldn’t have complained about that

      • Sergio- I would not consider Django a realistic slave narrative on resistance.

        In all your factors as to why the film did not hit, you didn’t mention that maybe just maybe, white or black america can’t accept a slave narrative, where a slave protagonist is fighting back authentically, not in a cartoon Tarantino way

        • I clearly said in my piece that it “is not realistic by any means, but it’s how we wish it had really played out in real life” I suggest the other two films I mentioned if you want a more “realistic” view. Personally I’ll take Django any day, Leave me to my fanatsies

  11. And some of the comments on this board, seems almost gleeful in the box office returns

    SMH , the pathology with some of is.

    Crabs in the barr

  12. Got my tickets for tonight and although I’m really done with the slave onslaught in media lately ie, (Underground, Book Of Negroes & Roots Remake) I will be supporting this one. Shame on all of you who will be seeing Tyler dressed up in drag and supporting “Boo” but not supporting this film. Black people deserve what they get because they can’t support themselves rightly!

  13. No sympathy for Rape Parker. Also Sergio saying there is no hard evidence is laughable. The co-writer of the film was convicted of rape and he was in the same room. Rape Parker only got a pass because he had previous consensual sex with the woman and in the eyes of most people, that gives a man a free pass to have sex with that woman for life. People were excited for this movie until they heard about this sleezeballs actions. Birth of a Nation was going to be a certified hit and its numbers would have surpassed 12 years a Slave. Nate can climb into a hole now where he belongs.

    • I don’t have hard evidence because I didn’t poll or see one of every black woman in the country to find out if there were going to see that film. I know of several women who wanted to see the film despite Parker’s past. The subject matter of the film was just too important for them. Even Daily Beast political columnist Goldie Taylor wrote an article saying that despite the fact that she had been a victim of sexual abuse in the past she still was going to see the film because of its message. But there were many black women as well as I stated who had problems with Parker. That it gave them second thoughts about seeing it. Last month Roxanne Gay in the NY Times, who is also a past victim of sexual abuse, wrote in a column that she had had it up to here supporting the work of black men who had abused women and, as a result, was not going to see Nation. Unless you can show me proof that most black women stayed away from the Nation because of Parker, then you don’t have any hard evidence either. I can only state that it was a factor but how much it was no one knows including yourself.

    • I agree with Susannah Dean. I can’t believe that in people don’t understand how to correctly apologize or in Parker’s case, express empathy. I accept that he was acquitted on the charges (but, as Dean said in her comment, there’s a reason why). What ended my support of the theatrical release of this film (I’ll definitely see it on Netflix) is him not expressing any empathy whatsoever for the victim who eventually committed suicide. Emphasizing his innocence is more important to him than the dead victim which is unforgivable for this woman. Also, I wasn’t impressed with the trailer for this film which also contributed to me shunning it. I am, however, excited to see Hidden Figures and I can’t wait to see Moonlight!

  14. I agree with the comments made by 119. BON has been the most anticipated movie of 2016. As the article explains, Nate Parker for whatever reason didn’t listen to his PR team and Fox Searchlight, now the movie is underperforming so far. Period! Some men are blaming women and in particular black women for not supposedly supporting this film, go ask white liberals and non-blacks why they didn’t see the film?

    • “Some men are blaming women and in particular black women for not supposedly supporting this film, go ask white liberals and non-blacks [and black men] why they didn’t see the film” And THERE you have it.

  15. Suggestions for Parker to atone:
    1) Acknowledge culpability for causing the victim pain & suffering.

    2) Divest himself of the $17 million and spread it out across the country to the
    many rape crisis & counseling centers.
    3) Any and all profits from BON should go to his victem’s surviving child/family
    4) Parker’s next film should be the life story about the young woman victim who committed suicide.

    • Why? He was acquitted.. This is nonsense that you should be forced to grovel and apologize for something you did not do.

  16. At this point I don’t care about Parker and how this effect his career. I’m more so looking at the two Black actresses involved. Are their performances worth seeing this? I want to support their careers as Parker’s nose dives but slave narratives are a bit much to take in.

    • Actually the women in this film did strong and respectable work and their characters were noteworthy!

  17. Hmm. Everyone that’s conflating Nate’s past with the quality of this film, where were you at back in 2004 when he first started, or 2007 when he had his breakout role in The Great Debaters? I guess when you’re a Social Justice Warrior particulars, facts, and timeliness are an aside to your particular agenda. Maybe you’re riding Ms. Union’s coattails, I can see how you would give credibility to the other woman that became wifey. Maybe you’re taking a break from watching Love and Hiphop or Empire, gossiping on Facebook or Twitter to vocalize your objections to his past and a movie you haven’t or had any intentions of seeing. And for the record I saw the 9:00 show at MJR. Too many of you have an instinctive house n**ga mentality. If white media doesn’t appove you must acquiescence.

    • Exactly. Now all of a sudden it’s a problem that he has been accused of rape. Using the allegations against him as a reason not to see The Birth of a Nation is completely stupid.

    • As one who boycotted the theatrical run of this film but will see it on Netflix, first, I never thought Parker was a good actor, not in The Great Debaters, not in Red Tails. Second, I was excited about this film until I saw the trailer which didn’t impress me. Third, voting with one’s dollars is an effective way to get a message across. I never paid to see a Bruce Willis or Arnold Schwarzenegger movie in the 80s and 90s because they supported Republican politicians. As someone else commented, Parker has shown little or no remorse for inviting his friends to have unconsensual sex with a woman he had consensual sex with (one of his friends declined to participate, describing it as “not right to have 3 on 1”) and for the fact that the victim later committed suicide. His 60 Minutes interview was a perfect time to at the LEAST express some kind of sadness for the victim and he declined. That’s not someone whose work I’m going to support regardless of anyone’s name-calling. Again, if I’m going to leave my house, spend $12-14 and have to deal with rude people talking, then I need something exceptional. And this just didn’t look exceptional.

      • Marie, my god girl, what is it, make up you mind? You zigged to the left and slipped to the right… paused, straddles the line, eat your cake and saved some too. Were you boycotting this movies or…. ? Or, did you stay away so you wouldn’t have to deal with rude people talking? Oh wait, in your last “excuse” you said you “need something exceptional. I saw the trailer which didn’t impress me”. OMG… now it’s the trailer’s fault? Is that why you stayed away? Slow down so I can put the cherry on top of your ball of confusion. Okay, in your moment of pause you said “voting with one’s dollars is an effective way to get a message across.” Geez… excuse me, but help us out here because I fail to see any message in your madness?! What message did you send and to whom were you sending it? I’m left with a vague message in the words of a very conflicted woman who’s trying to convince herself that she made the right decision.

      • If that’s how you feel, you should pirate it. Then you can have your cake, eat it, and have some chocolate milk on the side.

    • Most people didn’t know about the charges when his career began. Did you go see Queen of Katwe, too, or do you only support black rapists?

  18. I’ve read about 6 articles tonight on Birth’s performance, including that one over at “The Nation.” But here’s a numbers based interpretation of the Birth situation that I think provides a, let’s just say, less emotional contextualization.
    https://www.buzzfeed.com/adambvary/the-birth-of-a-nation-box-office

    Also if you’re in Chicago Jeff Chang is speaking at Univ of Chicago tonight (Oct 10), and that dude has some very deep books on race/culture/America.

  19. This movie was going to be a tough sell to begin with. A slave rebellion? What made anyone think that a mass audience would turn out to see it. Also, Sundance and these film festivals should by no means be a measure of what the public actually wants to see. The people who attend these are not the general film-going public and are insiders who have a different take on films because they have a stake. Nate Parker may have undone himself ultimately because I watched the 60 Minutes interview and actually left with less of a favorable view of him than before. Maybe I felt that he was more cavalier than he should have been about the whole thing. I did not see the film and may see it later, but I’m in no hurry.

    • 11 white ppl felt that Nate Parkers accuser was not credible.

      Birth of a Nation was head and shoulders above 12 years!

      • Because they’d had sex before. But she was credible enough to convict his buddy. And by the way, who set up the incident in the first place….?

  20. I’m sad, though not surprised, to see such vitriolic responses to the box office disappointment of this film. Sergio’s breakdown, as per usual, makes perfect sense to me, especially of the film not being all that. I saw it last night, and while I didn’t feel like I wasted my hard-earned dinero, it wasn’t the bravura its been advertised to be. I’m sick of seeing slave films too, but am aware, and surprised so many here are not, of their (mostly) necessity of it as the national political landscape proves that folks are ignorant of the horrific nature of Black America’s past; I also saw this film in protest of that BS debate last night. That said, despite the cleared rape allegations, which I 100% get still troubles people even though he was cleared, as I think of the future of this film I feel it will touch people, especially Black folks, in ways that other films haven’t. There’s a lot of strong moments in “Birth,” fully realistic of not, that still make it a noteworthy film, and one worth seeing theatrically, or otherwise). Lastly, I can’t support wishing bad on Parker as he set out to make something with purpose, independently, when other people were afraid too, or unsuccessful in doing. Putting in that work personally, I get the sacrifice it takes and whether I like him, or support him, or not, I can’t see myself publicly decrying him.

    • There’s the beef I’ve been looking for… right here–> “There’s a lot of strong moments in “Birth,”. Seriously, aside from the “messages” (of which I do not know what they are) it would be nice if those who are supporting this movie, speak on the merits of its (i,e;, structure, pace, acting, editing, etc) and whether or not it was a well told, engaging movie?.

      So Ceasar, you raised your hand, what specifically happened in those “moments” in which you speak of? And, in your opinion. what was missing from the film? I mean, like you and many others, I too expected the film to be all that (got caught-up in the hype), but where did it miss your expectations? I’ve heard it was too predictable. In other words, it was something like a soap opera that leans heavily on melodrama, with the outcomes being as expected. What ye say?

      • The set up was too long and the payoff was too short. I’m guessing it had more to do with budgetary constraints, than directorial missteps. Every slave master who had his comeuppance was satisfying. Then again the actual rebellion may have been more mob mentality than an organized revolt. There are also several cinematic shots that were stunning. There was nothing predictable about this film. The pacing was the only downside. Overall I enjoyed the film. In comparison The Magnificent Seven was transparent, predictable, repetitive and remedial. The upside was the cast ensemble and a few wide angle shots. The difference between the two leads Nate was real and Denzel was surreal.

        • “There was nothing predictable about this film”

          Now that’s interesting because… well, the following reviews thought otherwise. –> “Turner’s life becomes crowded with stock characters… – weepy flashbacks, crude melodrama, obvious imagery – The director’s pedestrian tactics are most evident in his command, or lack thereof, over his cast. While Parker knows how to act – he abandons his fellow actors, allowing them to exploit their worst instincts: hammy accents, wild gesticulating, uneasy line readings. Armie Hammer, Colman Domingo, Penelope Ann Miller, Jackie Earle Haley – these are solid character actors who are capable of remarkable turns. Here, though, they are embarrassing – or perhaps just embarrassed with the dialogue Parker’s script saddles them with. – it is not cruel to suggest that the best thing Parker ever wrote was the film’s title” OUCH!!! And another writes “it’s brimming with flaws indicative of a first-time writer-director. “Birth” is disjointed, rambling and devoid of much originality,” Now what was thatg you were saying, Mr. Random? But wait, how about some good stuff–>”but what remains clear throughout is Parker’s talent as an actor. A sort of Denzel-Jamie Foxx hybrid, Parker projects power and charisma”. Now that’s what I’m looking for. I mean, I’ve viewed a movie ( a few in fact) just because one actor received an Oscar nod in it. Yep, my movie watching journey can be satisfying if I see a great performance, even if the film itself isn;t all that. But lets take one last look at someone’s opinion on the predictable nature of the film. —> “this story about a rebel slave named Nat Turner is a collection of every classic Hollywood cliché roped and gagged in the service of a subversive story… It’s as predictable as the film itself as it uses every well-worn white Hollywood cliché to tell the story of a black rebel. Turner imbibed every empty trope, copied every hero angle and essentially followed the patterns established by the oppressor to speak his truth. No wonder it feels forced and familiar, and just a little full of itself”

          Well Mr. Random, I guess it’s all in the eyes of the beholder, huh?

        • I forgot to ask, is there any truth/merit in the snippets (reviews) I posted? Btw, I don’t know if this makes any difference but they (the reviews) were written by non-POC at Rotten Tomatoes.

          • In all seriousness it seems like they watched The Magnificent Seven and applied it to The Birth of a Nation. Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind, Being John Malkovitch, Requiem for a Dream all took the same artistic license B.O.A.N got criticized for. The difference is white directors, white actors, white audience = the right type of picture. As far as the supporting cast all turned in a credible performance. I wonder why isn’t there a fatigue with all the WW2 movies. If you go in with any type of negative pre-bias your viewing enjoyment has already been spoiled.

            • “If you go in with any type of negative pre-bias your viewing enjoyment has already been spoiled”

              Ain’t that the truth. In fact, the the case in most events/endeavors/issues that we find ourselves facing in life. Once we (humans) make a decision or take a position, it’s very hard for us to change. Case in point, those who like Mr Trump, it does not matter what he does now, they cannot be convinced to change their mind. And, those who had contempt for Mr. Parker (before viewing the film) will most likely not enjoy his film. I know, that’s so f’d up but so true.

              Anyway, I try very hard to not put much value on the opinions of others unless I really know the individual, especially when it involves movies. That said, my daughter is one of a few in that circle. However, it’s interesting to hear what others have to say, which could lead to thought provoking conversations. And I LOVE conversations surrounding movies.

              So Mr. Random, thank you for jumpiing in.

              re: M7, I did not enjoy it. “Action” is not Antoine Fuque’s strong point. One case in point, the big shoot-out scene with the gatling gun was pure ridiculousness. That whole scene was a ball of confusion.

              Thinking back, Antiones direction in his “White House Down” flick had similar flaws. Bullets flying every damn where, with most missing the mark. In short, Denzel couldn’t save this M7.

              On a side note, when is Denzel going to win the heart of a woman… if yu know what I mean? Just last night I saw him in “The Bone Collector”. He won Angela Jolie’s heart (she was looking at him like she looooved him) but again, no love for him *lol*. She just rubbed on his knuckles. 🙂

            • Okay, I went to see it. Now, I have no idea way Fox thought this flick was destined for big business. I mean, you summed it up when you said “The set up was too long and the payoff was too short”. And, the set was void of any action/drama/suspense that could be considered captivating or exiciting or engaging. So, man, I was very disappointed, but now I understand why those who are campioning it, speak of its merits in an ambiguous ways. There’s little to highlight.

              Now, I am side-eyeing everyone who’s favoring this film over “12 Years”…. come on y’all, are you kidding me. Listen, imo, in sports terms, “Nation” couldn’t carry “12 Years” jock strap. I am dead serious…. the race ain’t even close. It’s like Usain Bolt vs Rev. Al Sharpton.

              • If this film got one of the biggest purchases at Sundance, then there’s hope for us all.

                • EXACTLY! But wait, IG-88, are you saying you’ve seen it and agree with those who are not championing it? If so, could you share your take on the film?

                  My position is clear, in no aspect of the film’s quality, is it superior than “12 Years”. 12 Year’s acting performances (several) were far greater than any in “Nation”, It writing, it’s pace, it’s engaging and suspenseful way of telling its story, wardrobe and music and sound effects were far superior than Nations’. Do you agree?

              • Thanks Carey Carey for your honest review on the film! From the jump, when this film got sold for 17 million at Sundance you were one of the few that really questioned if this film was any good! You knew that Nate Parker was not a superior actor! We both saw the film Beyond being Black (as you put it) and his performance was mediocre at best. We know that Armie Hammer, Gabrielle Union and Aja Naomi King can’t act to save their lives but we some how expected this movie to be superior than 12 years, Selma, The Butler or even the ridiculous Django unchained???

                • Hold up Troublemaker, I gotta call Mr. Honesty, Charles Judson. See, I think he saw the drubbing of “Nation’s” before it opened. Look at what he said–“without #OscarsSoWhite, Birth may have not been positioned as an awards contender, let alone an inevitable spoiler to an #OscarsSoWhite three-peat in 2017. Which highlights how problematic it can be when companies and organizations are in a rush to be either white knights and/or take economic advantage of current issues and causes” Hmmmmm, is honest Abe Judson saying the film’s possible success was sitting on the wings of emotions related to current issues and causes, and not necessarily the quality of the film?
                  That makes since because speaking honestly about this movie seems to be a perplexing matter. I mean, I got the feeling that if a black person didn’t praise this movie, it was like they were abandoning their race.

                  Listen, I know the rewards of watching a film is a subjective thing… you know, one man’s garbage is another’s treasure kind of thing. That said, I couldn’t wait to see “nation” b/c those who were championing the film were, for the most part, focusing on “messages”, not the acting performances or the film’s structure, pace, acting, editing, etc, and whether or not it was a well told, engaging movie.

                  re, Gabrielle Union and Nate’s acting. Was she in the movie? I’m joking but you had to look real close to find her. I think I saw her jump the broom in an early scene, then… notta, gone, ghost. But it seems like Nate Parker was in every scene. Hey, I’m serious. He was even in a scene picking cotton, by himself :-). But check this, other than folks being hung ALL-THE-TIME…. I can’t remember a scene that stands out. Well, there is one. That light-skinned brotha from Spike Lee’s films, Roger Guenveur Smith, he was in a scene that had me rollin’. I mean, the man can act his a$$ off and actually he has been in several movies, but do you remember him in Do The Right Thing? He was that stumbling stuttering dude named Smiley. Well, in “Nation” he was the house negro who had a little power and respect. But when Nate and the boys started cutting off white folk’s heads, the once strong house boy with the bass in his voice turned into, well… he was crying and looking all crazy as he addressed the angry mob. Looking like Smiley with slobber dripping from his mouth he said, “OH NO Nate, you done got us all killed!”. Now, I’m not going to spoil it for you but once he was finished pleading with the crowd, his ass was in trouble *lol* . But going back to my original point, why does it feel as if black folks are obligated to like this movie? And ONE-MO’-TIME… it was nothing to write home about.

                  • You still need your own shout out! You were daring enough to challenge others who announce that this mediocre film was the second coming! As for moi, one look at this film’s bootleg trailer and I didn’t want anything to do with it!

                    • My caution flag went up when I read the first tweets that Tambay posted. You know, when the film first blew-up at Sundance all the critics were breaking their necks tweeting out the crowd’s reactions. Tambay posted them here. He apparently was all excited and happy for ol’dude. But I noticed those tweets weren’t championing the film, only how that Sundance “wanna-be-something-special” crowd was fawning all over it. Soooooo, I smelled something fishy. On top of that, a first time director wearing 3 hats (writer, director AND ACTOR) gave me big reason to pause. Ask Don Cheadle, who is a much better actor that Parker, how that worked for him. Did you see “Miles Ahead”?

  21. ****Great movie! *****

    Made sure to contribute my dollars this past opening weekend. Very powerful and haunting images and superb performances. Not enough of the rebellion though.

  22. I wanted to see the film this weekend, but a dude named Matthew came through and ruined my plans. I don’t care about the controversy, I care about the other artists who deserve to be supported: Colman Domingo, Aunjanue Ellis, Aja Naomi King, Roger Guenveur Smith….

    • And every one of those actors you mentioned were great in it too Ashley! A much better made film than 12 years a slave…

  23. The funny thing about this blog post and thread comments is most of you are rather ignorant about how the film industry works, especially for “Studio films”. A movie like Queen of Katwe or Birth of a Nation will end up being seen by over a 1 Billion people in the next seven years,and another billion in its lifetime. 90% of the promotion and advertising is done for the theatrical release against the life of the film. The rape controversy has even made it more popular. All of you on this thread will watch this film, whether its on dvd, tv, streaming, bootleg, on the plane, on cable, illegally downloaded, etc you will watch it. When it goes to PPV or VOD all the white people too embarrassed to say they watched it, even the kkk drumpf supporters will watch it privately in the comfort of their homes. Movies are not like TV series. If you don’t like a TV series you might never watch it, but for only two hours of your life you will watch a movie. There are hundreds of oscar winning white films that many people have still not scene, but a black film about slavery with the controversy surrounding it……

  24. This was a race based movie so you ccompare it to other race base movies. 12 Years A Slave did less than 7 million opening weekend, I believe Selma barely did 600,000. The white savior film Free State Of Jones did 7.5 million. So Birth, which came out during Hurricane Matthew, was a hit by these standards. Anyone expecting marvel numbers was fooling ththemselves. The protesters are getting credit and they didn’t dova damn thing.

  25. Carey Carey –
    My caution flag went up when I read the first tweets that Tambay posted. You know, when the film first blew-up at Sundance all the critics were breaking their necks tweeting out the crowd’s reactions. Tambay posted them here. He apparently was all excited and happy for ol’dude. But I noticed those tweets weren’t championing the film, only how that Sundance “wanna-be-something-special” crowd was fawning all over it. Soooooo, I smelled something fishy. On top of that, a first time director wearing 3 hats (writer, director AND ACTOR) gave me big reason to pause. Ask Don Cheadle, who is a much better actor that Parker, how that worked for him. Did you see “Miles Ahead”?
    ———————————————————————————————-
    Carey Carey, very well said! I couldn’t have said it better! I had the same thoughts as you when I heard about the reviews at Sundance but I held back from saying anything because I wanted to be proven wrong. I was so happy that you held your own in that discussion and you never wavered! Kudos to you!

    Folks on here lambasting folks like me for not going out to support BOAN but fail to realize that I didn’t need to see that film to know that it was going to be bad! I just used common sense!!! Just like you said, Nate Parker was a jack of all trades but a master of none in this film! The story, direction and acting are critical areas in any film and homeboy thought he could pull those roles off effortlessly! Delusional much? When I saw the trailer of homeboy with his mouth open wide and charging, all I could do was laugh! Homeboy should have focus his energy on this bad acting! I laughed harder when you said he was in every scene even the one with him alone picking cotton! Lawd, I was dying when you said that! He could have painted himself blue and opened his mouth wide to catch some flies while he picked the cotton! Maybe that would have added some depth to the scene!

    I totally forgot about Miles Ahead and I hope to catch it soon. You know I mentioned that the trailer looked more like a blaxploitation film and Cheadle was looking like he was Shaft or Priest! Cheadle is too good of an actor to be reduced to playing an icon like Miles Davis in that way! Plus, I wasn’t too happy when Don Cheadle made that stupid comment about black films needing a white savior! Don cheadle is a good solid actor and he didn’t need a white savior! He needed a good script and good direction!

  26. Troublemaker, here’s some ammunition for your next battle with your new nemesis, Whinyblackman. Well, it’s actually a song. I mean, I’m going to kick this comment off with a song which speaks to where black cinema is today. B/c some folks – as you said – get all upset and wanna call people haters and suggest we turn in our black cards when we don’t “support” a black film. So here it goes. Oh, sing along if you know the words to “White Christmas”.
    “I’m dreaming of a white Christmas
    Just like the ones I used to know
    Where the tree tops glisten
    And children listen
    To hear sleigh bells in the snow **the records scratches… the song changes**… “It’s beginning to look a lot like a “White” Christmas, every where I go. I had so much hope for the following shows but now I don’t know which way Oscar will go”

    1 – Antoine Fuqua’s remake of “The Magnificent Seven” which Denzel Washington? Nope, #OscarstillsoWhite

    2 – Lupita Nyong’o co-stars in director Mira Nair’s adaptation of the book “The Queen of Katwe:. Nope. #Oscarstillsowhite

    3 – More from Oyelowo who is also starring in Amma Asante’s follow-up to last year’s critically-acclaimed “Belle,” titled “A United Kingdom,”. Oyelowo stars, playing Botswana’s first black president with Rosamund Pike co-starring, playing Ruth Williams, the white woman who would eventually become his wife. Oh Lord, white woman-black man – NOPE! #Oscarstillso white.

    5 – Will Smith stars in “Collateral Beauty”. First Concussion now his colleagues try to come up with a plan to get him out of his depression. Just because it’s Will Smith… NOPE! #Oscarstillsowhite

    6 – Ruth Negga and a white fellow star in an adaptation of the real-life story of Richard and Mildred Loving, an interracial couple living in the state of Virginiain the 1960s, OTAAY! NOPE #Oscarstillsowhite

    7 – “Free State of Jones” – the “epic slave action-drama”. No slaves this year! #Oscarstillsowhite

    8 One Mo’ time – Don Cheadle’s Miles Davis film, “Miles Ahead,” #Oscarstillsowhite

    9 – Omar Sy stars in the French-produced feature film “Chocolat,”. Please… #Oscarstillsowhite

    11 – Barry Jenkins’ eagerly-anticipated “Medicine for Melancholy” follow-up,”Moonlight,” Oscar?

    12 – Ernest Dickerson’s “Double Play”, Louis Gossett Jr., is in it… and for that reason alone #Oscarstillsowhite

    13 – Of course I can’t forget about Nate Parker’s “The Birth of a Nation,” Well?

    14 – “Hidden Figures,” true story of some of the African American women mathematicians who worked at NASA during the Civil Rights era. Starring in the film are Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, and Janelle Monae, as the unsung scientists. Ut OH. Lets see, does this smell like Oscar? Well, Cookie Lyons and your favorite mammy, Minny Jackson from the Help are sure to cook up sumptin’, huh?

    15. And holding it all down, Denzel Washington’s adaptation of August Wilson’s “Fences,” Well?

    There you have TroubleMaker, black movies to (blindly) support. So people get ready there’s a train a-comin’, picking up passengers coast to coast. All you need is faith to hear the diesel coming, don’t be no hater, just get on board.

  27. Thanks for the song but doesn’t that song get play whenever a movie comes out? I don’t understand why these crazy black folks like Whinny the Fool always turn their anger towards black audiences? We are the ones who pay our hard earned money and get very bad products in return! Whinny needs to start getting angry at these money hungry black filmmakers for the crap they churn out!

    As for those movie, I just hope that both Denzel Washington and Viola Davis both get an Oscar nom for their performances! I saw the trailer for Fences and those two went toe to toe without coming up for air! That’s just how I like my actors to get down!

    • AMEN! So I guess we can put a cap on this one. In the end you said it best right here–> when you continue to support mediocrity you continue to get mediocrity! These filmmakers naturally think that when you support their films it is a sign that their films are good! I am tired of supporting mediocre films with hopes that these directors will get better! I am only supporting good black films! Take that however you like it!” ~ TroubleMaker

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