Nate Parker‘s scandal-plagued movie The Birth of a Nation is expected to flop at the box office this weekend. The slavery movie opened nationwide in 2,100 theaters on Friday.
The movie was a shoe-in for an Academy Award, but the Oscar hopes will end in disaster for the film’s troubled star, writer and director.
According to the Hollywood Reporter, media Guru Oprah Winfrey and her bestie Gayle King were among the first to view the film at a private screening in January.
Winfrey was so excited about the film’s Oscar chances that she and King sent Parker a Feb. 1 Instagram video congratulating him.
But the excitement was short lived.
By August, news reports were circulating about the rape charges involving Parker and Birth of a Nation co-writer, Jean Celestin.
The news was damning, but it was further complicated when the unidentified victim killed herself.
At first Winfrey was sympathetic to Parker’s plight. She tried to give him helpful suggestions.
Sources tell Hollywoodreporter.com that Winfrey suggested Parker sit down with King to discuss the rape case on her CBS talk show.
But Parker declined.
He was reportedly upset that the decades old rape case had become an issue — even though he attempted to play the victim by claiming he was falsely accused during a planned college tour to promote the film. The college tour was abruptly cancelled after the scandal careened out of control on social media.
Parker ignored Winfrey’s advice to be open and honest about the rape incident. Instead, he appeared as a guest on daytime talk shows where he repeatedly played the victim.
In an interview on Good Morning America this week, co-host Robin Roberts asked Parker about his glaring lack of empathy for his victim.
Parker argued arrogantly, “I was falsely accused, I was proven innocent and I’m not going to apologize for that.”
Director Judd Apatow said Parker missed his opportunity to address the rape culture that exists on college campuses.
“He has an opportunity to teach young men about the meaning of consent,” Apatow tweeted on Oct. 5. “He could do something that would help so many people.”
Executives for Fox Searchlight, which paid a record $17.5 million for the rights to distribute Birth of a Nation, are said to be frustrated over Parker’s arrogance and unwillingness to be humble.
The movie studio paid a boatload of money to public-relations consultants to do damage control. They gave Parker media training and helped him send the right message about sexual violence. But Parker ignored their advice as soon as the cameras started rolling.
“They gave him talking points and he just didn’t execute,” says an industry veteran.
Parker’s narcissism was on full display in an interview with Steve Harvey. Once again, Parker blamed others for his problems.
“What are these journalists trying to do?” he whined to Harvey. “Do they care about [me]?”
Hollywood insiders were stunned at Parker’s pompous attitude.
“You watch the Steve Harvey thing — you can’t find a more softball situation — and [Parker] is just simmering,” said a source close to the movie project.
Birth of Nation is on track for a soft opening of about $10 million or less in ticket sales this weekend.
Insiders say the movie will not recoup the budget the studio poured into making the film. ‘Nation’ will just barely make back Fox Searchlight’s initial $17.5 million investment.
Like typical narcissists, Parker has only himself to blame for his spectacular downfall.
“He will not have an easy time,” says a veteran producer. “He’s clearly a vital filmmaking voice. It’s maddening to watch it go so wrong. No one is hiring him at the moment. If they’re going to pay $17.5 million, you’ve got to do everything right.”