"I can guarantee there's going to be controversy. There was controversy about the movie before I even started writing it. It wades into some subjects that have been controversial for years and years and years," screenwriter and producer Mark Boal had said at last week's premiere.
The movie has generated criticism from Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, plus Senators Carl Levin and John McCain.
In a letter to Sony Pictures Chairman and CEO Michael Lynton, the senators said the suggestion that torture resulted in information leading to the location of Osama bin Laden is not true.
"'Zero Dark Thirty' is factually inaccurate, and we believe that you have an obligation to state that the role of torture in the hunt for Osama bin Laden is not based on the facts, but rather part of the film's fictional narrative," the senators said.
The senators believe the film will have the potential to shape American public opinion in a disturbing and misleading manner. They think the filmmakers and the studio have a social and moral obligation to get the facts right.
"I hope people recognize that it's a motion picture, and not a documentary. And I think it's a pretty gripping one. But I think it also captures some of the essence of what went on over the last 10 years," said Boal.
Last week, Boal and director Kathryn Bigelow released a statement saying they depicted a variety of controversial practices and intelligence methods used in the name of finding bin Laden. They said the film shows no single method was necessarily responsible for solving the manhunt.
"Zero Dark Thirty" opened in limited release on Wednesday. It will open nationwide Jan. 11, 2013.