Fox Searchlight Pictures won a bidding war at the Sundance Film Festival for “The Birth of a Nation,” paying a record-setting $17.5 million for the film’s worldwide distribution rights.

The studio announced the deal after the film premiered to a standing ovation.

It tells the true story of Nat Turner, a slave who taught himself to read and became a preacher before ultimately leading a deadly rebellion that wiped out 60 slave owners.

Fox Searchlight did not disclose the amount of its winning bid, reported to be $17.5 million. Past high-priced titles such as 2013’s “The Way, Way Back” and 2006’s “Little Miss Sunshine” topped out in the $10-12 million range.

Writer, director, producer and star Nate Parker spent seven years making the film he described as a passion project he hopes will serve as a “healing mechanism for America.”

Fox Searchlight says it will release “The Birth of a Nation” later this year.


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