Disney earns best per-screen average for a Spielberg pic

Echoing the release strategy of Clint Eastwood pics around this time of year, Disney decided on a limited opening for Steven Spielberg’s presidential pic “Lincoln” Nov. 9, yielding the director’s best-ever per-screen average — $85,846 from 11 locations.

The Disney-DreamWorks film, which clocks in at nearly two and a half hours, launched at the usual sites in the nation’s largest markets, including Boston’s Kendall Square and the Bethesda Row theater in Washington, D.C. — both of which had their biggest three-day grosses ever, thanks to the pic.

Disney had to add screens at all locations throughout the weekend, given the film’s lengthy runtime.

“Lincoln” scored this year’s third-highest per-screen average, behind “The Master” and “Moonrise Kingdom.” The pic expanded to 1,775 locations in its second frame — similar to Warner Bros.’ rollout strategy for Eastwood’s 2003 awards contender “Mystic River,” which averaged $49,293 per screen over its opening weekend, and cumed more than $90 million domestically.

Last year, Disney took a more aggressive approach with Spielberg’s “War Horse,” bowing the film nationwide on Christmas Day. That pic went on to gross $177 million worldwide.

Disney has timed “Lincoln’s” Stateside release to play through the holiday season, with plans to expand the film even further, to approximately 2,000 domestic locations Thanksgiving weekend.

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