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December 20, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

Sen. John McCain

The controversy over the waterboarding scenes in Zero Dark Thirty has not hurt the film at the box office. reported today (Thursday) that playing in five theaters on its opening day in New York and Los Angeles, the Kathryn Bigelow feature took in an estimated $124,848 — or an average $24,969 per theater, making it one of the biggest tallies ever for a limited mid-week opening. The film drew more fire on Wednesday as three U.S. senators, John McCain, Dianne Feinstein and Carl Levin, released a letter that they had jointly written to Sony Pictures in which they maintained that the suggestion in the film that enhanced interrogation techniques helped lead to the hiding place of Osama bin Laden was wrong. But Bigelow and screenwriter Mark Boal later released a statement of their own refuting the senators’ attack. “We depicted a variety of controversial practices and intelligence methods that were used in the name of finding bin Laden,” the statement said. Conservative commentators went further. New York Post film critic Kyle Smith said that the filmmakers’ statement amounted to “hedging” because they “have an interest in not appearing to support conservative positions” since they “want to win Oscars that are voted on by a left-liberal Academy.” Smith goes on to say that the three senators have misrepresented what former CIA director Leon Panetta said about the effectiveness of enhanced interrogation in the hunt for bin Laden. Indeed, said flatly, “The film indirectly shows how enhanced interrogation tactics like waterboarding gleaned critical information that helped the U.S. military find bin Laden.”