It’s been months since Steve McQueen’s historical drama 12 Years A Slave took home the Best Picture award, but it seems like some are still smarting from being overlooked during awards season.

Recently, Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom screenwriter William Nicholson had some interesting things to say about why his film failed to gain critical and commercial success.

“I think it worked superbly. I’m incredible proud of this film,” he told the crowd at this year’s Hay Festival. “Unfortunately it didn’t get the kind of acclaim that I wanted. It didn’t get Oscars.”

Nicholson reportedly spent 15 years working to bring Mandela’s life to the big screen, but the British writer said the biopic failed to score at the box office because the South African icon died prior to its release.

“Mandela died as I was in the royal premiere with Will and Kate,” he said. “We were deluged with Mandela stud and after a week we all thought, please take it away, we’ve heard enough about Mandela.”

Nicholson also blamed the film’s lackluster performance on McQueen’s movie. He argued American audiences were “too exhausted” by 12 Years A Slave to watch a film that dealt with apartheid.

“[Americans] were so exhausted feeling guilty about slavery that I don’t think there was much left over to be nice about our film. So, our film didn’t do as well as we’d hoped, which was a bit heartbreaking.”

McQueen’s award-winning film 12 Years A Slave netted more than $170 million worldwide, while Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom earned just under $9 million, far short of its $35 million budget.

What do you think of Nicholson’s comments? Were audiences “too exhausted” to see Mandela? 

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