Kathryn Bigelow's 'Zero Dark Thirty' Sets Washington D.C. Premiere (Exclusive)

"Zero Dark Thirty"

Sony's big bet this year is Kathryn Bigelow's hunt-for-Osama bin Laden pic "Zero Dark Thirty," which opens Dec. 19 in limited release. Will it be as victorious as the director's Oscar-winning "The Hurt Locker?"

The Jan. 8 event at the Newseum is expected to draw politicians, members of the executive branch, opinion-makers and journalists.

Director Kathryn Bigelow and writer Mark Boal will go to the nation's capital for a special premiere marking the nationwide release of their new film Zero Dark Thirty, The Hollywood Reporter has learned.

The Jan. 8 event at the Newseum in Washington, D.C., will come just days before Zero Dark Thirty expands nationwide on Jan. 11. Sony opens the critically acclaimed film in New York and Los Angeles on Dec. 19, following a premiere in Los Angeles on Dec. 10.

Zero Dark Thirty -- chronicling the U.S. government's long intelligence hunt for Osama bin Laden and the Navy SEALs raid that led to his death -- initially drew the ire of some conservatives for allegedly glamorizing President Barack Obama. They also claimed that the Obama administration went out of its way to help Boal with his research.

FILM REVIEW: "Zero Dark Thirty"

Bigelow and Boal, who will be on hand to discuss the film following the screening, have insisted their movie is apolitical (indeed, there only fleeting images of Obama). The decision to host the screening in D.C. signals that the filmmakers aren't afraid to promote the film among politicians, members of the executive branch, opinion-makers and Washington journalists.

(No guest list is available, but the invitation notes that if federal ethics rules require members of Congress or the executive branch to pay the fair market value for seeing the movie, they can write a check to Sony for $12.)

Zero Dark Thirty, Bigelow and Boal's follow-up to the Oscar-winning The Hurt Locker, is generating strong awards buzz and this week was named the year's best picture by the New York Film Critics Circle and the National Board of Review.

STORY: 'Zero Dark Thirty' Named Best Film by National Board of Review

Sony and Megan Ellison's Annapurna Pictures, which financed and produced Zero Dark Thirty, originally intended to host the Washington screening Dec. 4 but decided to make it more of a premiere on the eve of the movie's nationwide expansion.

It's not unheard of to use Washington as a launching pad for films with strong U.S. government storylines. Sony premiered Black Hawk Down there in 2001. A year later Paramount followed with the premiere of The Sum of All Fears.

By going to Washington, Zero Dark Thirty also could be hoping for the same press mileage that fellow awards contender Lincoln is enjoying as it makes the rounds in the nation's capital.

STORY: Producer Siblings David and Megan Ellison Betting Big on Holiday Box Office

President Obama hosted a special White House screening of Lincoln in November while U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell banded together Thursday in urging fellow senators to attend a Capitol Hill screening of Lincoln on Dec. 19, saying Steven Spielberg's film offers instruction in how present-day lawmakers can come together and solve the fiscal cliff crisis.

Spielberg and Daniel Day-Lewis, who plays the storied president, will be on hand for that screening.