Kathryn Bigelow’s ‘Zero Dark Thirty’ Wide Release Delayed

"Zero Dark Thirty" will now open in New York and Los Angeles on Dec. 19 before going nationwide on Jan. 11 — in time to boost Oscar momentum

Sony has delayed the wide release of Kathryn Bigelow's "Zero Dark Thirty," a film documenting U.S. efforts to find and kill Osama bin Laden.

The studio will now release Bigelow's thematic follow-up to "The Hurt Locker" in New York and Los Angeles Dec. 19, expand it to a few more markets on Jan. 4, 2013, and distribute it nationwide Jan. 11.

That moves "Zero Dark Thirty" out of a crowded Christmas period, home to high-profile releases like Quentin Tarantino's "Django Unchained," Tom Hooper's "Les Miserables" and Judd Apatow's "This is 40."

It also positions the film to build momentum in the weeks leading up to the Oscars. The Academy will announce its nominees Jan. 10, the day before the film goes wide.

"Zero Dark Thirty" will be eligible because of its initial limited release and could use a string of nominations to lure more people to theaters. "The Hurt Locker" won Best Picture in spite of unimpressive box-office grosses, but that was more anomalous than common.

On its new nationwide date, "Zero Dark Thirty" opens against "Gangster Squad," the Warner Bros. gangster film whose release was delayed following the shootings in Aurora, Colo.