TORONTO — The screenwriter of Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom says his movie didn’t do well at the box office because 12 Years a Slave “sucked up all the guilt about black people.”
William Nicholson also blamed the film’s poor performance on the timing of the titular leader’s death.
“Mandela died as I was in the royal premiere with Will and Kate,” Nicholson said at this past weekend’s Hay Festival of Literature and the Arts, according to British media outlets.
“We were deluged with Mandela stuff and after a week we all thought, please take it away, we’ve heard enough about Mandela.”
Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, starring Idris Elba as Mandela, opened Nov. 29 and went on to earn a disappointing $27 million worldwide.
“I’m incredibly proud of this film,” Nicholson, 66, said. “Unfortunately it didn’t get the kind of acclaim that I wanted. It didn’t get Oscars.”
12 Years a Slave, released Oct. 18, made $188 million worldwide and was named Best Picture at the Academy Awards.
“(America) were so exhausted feeling guilty about slavery that I don’t think there was much left over to be nice about our film,” said Nicholson. “So, our film didn’t do as well as we’d hoped, which was a bit heartbreaking.”
Nicholson also revealed he wrote the speeches in Long Walk to Freedom because Mandela’s actual speeches were boring.
“I know it sound outrageous to say a thing like that, but when he came out of prison he made a speech and, God, you fell asleep.”
BELOW: Watch the trailers for Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom and 12 Years a Slave
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