Hunt for Bin Laden movie will still preem Dec. 19

Hoping to capitalize on the Academy’s Oscar nominations announcement and avoid the Christmas crunch at the box office, Sony Pictures has delayed the wide release of Kathryn Bigelow’s “Zero Dark Thirty” until Jan. 11. The movie will still open in New York and Los Angeles Dec. 19 as planned.

The Academy announces its Oscar nominations on Jan. 10, and while “Zero Dark Thirty” has yet to screen for the press, many awards pundits anticipate the film about the hunt for Osama Bin Laden to be a serious awards contender.

After its bicoastal preem, Sony will expand the film in eight-to-10 markets nationwide on Jan. 4, when it will compete against Lionsgate’s “Texas Chainsaw 3D.” On Jan. 11, “Zero Dark Thirty” will go head-to-head with WB’s “Gangster Squad” and Open Road’s supernatural spoof “A Haunted House.” Other films expanding on Jan. 11 include Focus’ “Promised Land” and The Weinstein Company’s drama “Quartet,” which marks the directorial debut of Dustin Hoffman.

While it’s rare that a studio the size of Sony would employ the strategy of a platform release, the studio was looking to avoid having “Zero Dark Thirty” compete with more commercial titles such as Universal’s drama “Les Miserables” and comedy “This Is 40″ from director Judd Apatow, Paramount’s thriller “Jack Reacher” starring Tom Cruise and the Seth Rogen-Barbara Streisand comedy “The Guilt Trip,” and Quentin Tarantino’s “Django Unchained,” which TWC is splitting with international distributor Sony.

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