"Lincoln" will debut on Nov. 9 and expand the following week.
Boasting a boatload of Oscar winners, Steven Spielberg's "Lincoln" has widely been seen as one of the front-runners for this year's Best Picture Academy Award.
So Disney's and DreamWorks' hesitance to nail down a release date for the picture, beyond saying it would hit theaters in the fourth quarter of 2012, has left many in the industry perplexed.
Well, the wait is over. The biopic about the country's 16th president and his struggles to hold the country together during the Civil War will debut on Nov. 9, 2012, expanding on Nov. 16.
It will open as counter-programming to the newest James Bond franchise entry, "Skyfall." Also debuting in limited release on Nov. 16 is the Joe Wright-directed adaptation of "Anna Karenina."
Also opening Nov. 16 is the final film in the hit tween franchise, "The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn — Part 2." That's formidable competition, though admittedly geared at a different group than "Lincoln."
But had the studios waited longer, the match-ups would have grown even more intense.
By debuting the film in November and not in December, DreamWorks and Disney will avoid the usual glut of Oscar-bait adult films that are all scheduled to hit theaters before the end of the year. Coming out during a crowded Christmas season — and all primed at "Lincoln"s' core demographic of adult moviegoers — are Quentin Tarantino's "Django Unchained," Tom Hooper's "Les Miserables," Baz Luhrmann's "The Great Gatsby," Judd Apatow's "This Is 40" and Kathryn Bigelow's untitled Osama bin Laden film.
"It’s like all these planes are lined up on the tarmac just waiting for older moviegoers, but those are the people who don't frequently go to the movies," a rival studio executive told TheWrap, commenting on the Christmas season.
"Lincoln" stars Daniel Day-Lewis as the U.S. president and Sally Field as his wife, the unstable Mary Todd Lincoln. Rounding out the cast are Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Robert Todd Lincoln, Tommy Lee Jones as abolitionist U.S. Rep. Thaddeus Stevens, Jared Harris as Ulysses S. Grant and David Straithairn as Secretary of State William Seward.
Tony Kushner, a Pulitzer Prize-winner, Tony Award-winner and Oscar nominee best known for "Angels in America," wrote the script. The film is based on "Team of Rivals," Doris Kearns Goodwin's best-selling biography of Lincoln and his often fractious cabinet.
Kathleen Kennedy and Spielberg are producing. Twentieth Century Fox and Participant Media are also backing the film.