Sundance: 'Birth of a Nation' sets record with $17.5M sale to Fox Searchlight

'The Birth of a Nation' Sets $17.5 Million Selling Sundance Record
'The Birth of a Nation' Sets $17.5 Million Selling Sundance Record

Worldwide rights to slave rebellion drama The Birth of a Nation, which premiered Monday afternoon in Park City to multiple standing ovations,have been picked up by Fox Searchlight at the Sundance Film Festival for $17.5 million, The Hollywood Reporter confirmed.

Searchlight beat escalating bids from Weinstein Co, Netflix (which insisted on a day-and-date theatrical and streaming debut), Paramount and other suitors. Several films have reached $10 million at the festival, including Manchester by the Sea (bought by Amazon earlier this week) and The Way, Way Back (by Searchlight in 2013).

While it's the highest price paid for a film at Sundance, it's not the most ever shelled out at a festival. Two Cannes titles, Tom Ford's Nocturnal Animals and Denis Villenueve's Story of Your Life both went for $20 million, and those films were not made yet.

Nate Parker wrote, directed and stars in the project, which is based on the story Nat Turner, an American-born slave who led the most successful slave rebellion in American history.

See photos of celebs at this year's Sundance Film Festival:

Read More: 'The Birth of a Nation': Sundance Review

When the film premiered Monday at Eccles theater, there was a standing ovation that lasted throughout the entire credits. It continued as Parker, who also produced the film, took the stage for the Q&A.

"I made this film for one reason, with the hope of creating change agents. That people can watch this film and be affected. That you can watch this film and see that there were systems that were in place that were corrupt and corrupted people and the legacy of that still lives with us," said Parker to the audience. "I just want you, if you are affected and you are so moved, to ask yourself, 'Are there systems in my life that need attention whether it be racial, gender?' There are a lot of injustices."

Soon after, several buyers were in the mix, with expectations that the bidding could likely go up to be the highest of this year's fest. A heated bidding war went on through the night with at least 7 interested parties, including several studios.

As THR previously reported, Parker quit acting for nearly two years to work on getting financing for the film, which also stars Armie Hammer, Aja Naomi King, Jackie Earle Haley and Gabrielle Union.

Parker, Kevin Turen, Jason Michael Berman, Aaron L. Gilbert, and Preston L. Holmes produced The Birth of a Nation with David S. Goyer, Michael Novogratz, Michael Finley, Tony Parker, Jason Cloth, Jane Oster, Barb Lee, Carl H. Lindner III, Derrick Brooks, Jill and Ryan Ahrens, Armin Tehrany, and Mark Moran acting as executive producers.