LOS ANGELES — Nelson Mandela, who fought for decades to end racial oppression in South Africa, has died just weeks before the wide release of a movie telling the story of his life.
The film, titled “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom,” chronicles its subject’s early life, the quarter-century he spent in prison, and his rise to become the first-ever black president of South Africa. He has since remained a symbol of the long fight against the apartheid regime.
Mandela is played by the British actor Idris Elba in the film, which is set to debut in theaters across the U.S. on Christmas Day. The movie is being distributed by the Weinstein Co. and was directed by Justin Chadwick.
It has already built some momentum during its limited release. Launched in four theaters on Friday, Nov. 29, the film made about $84,300 through that weekend, for an average of more than $21,000 per screen.
In South African theaters, it opened at No. 1, outgrossing the likes of “Hunger Games: Catching Fire,” “World War Z,” “The Wolverine” and “Hangover 3.”
Elba has been identified by Academy Award prognosticators as a potential Oscar candidate for his performance.