Fox Searchlight picks up ‘The Wrestler’

Posted by · 9:18 am · September 8th, 2008

This morning’s poll wasn’t even an hour old before Anne Thompson reported that Fox Searchlight won a bidding war for Darren Aronofsky’s “The Wrestler.”  Hell, I didn’t even get a chance to vote in it myself.

Here’s what she has to say:

In the first major buy of the Toronto International Film Festival, Fox Searchlight won an intense all-night bidding war for Darren Aronofsky’s The Wrestler, which days before had won the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Fest. Searchlight acquired U.S. rights for about $4 million.

After the packed screening of The Wrestler at Toronto’s Elgin last night, buyers huddled on the street and eventually, made their way to the Four Seasons Hotel to make their bids and pitch their release plans. An Oscar-campaign for Mickey Rourke’s rough-and-tumble, vulnerable performance as a wrestler on the ropes was an essential component of the deal. Most distribs were offering a Monster-style Oscar-qualifying late-year platform with a wider release in January.

Frankly, I’m somewhat surprised.  “The Wrestler” isn’t in the Searchlight wheelhouse, exactly.  Not that versatility is the issue, but I honestly expected Sony Classics or Miramax to dive in deeper.  But this adds to a new narrative coming out of Toronto: Fox Searchlight is walking out of the fest with a hell of a one-two punch in this and Danny Boyle’s “Slumdog Millionaire.”  And the studio has proven time and again that it knows how to usher films to Oscar pastures.

Boy did this race change in the course of a week.  We’ve got a new poll up now, so tell us how you feel about this acquisition.

Here’s some footage from the film with Aronofsky and Rourke talking their process. I love that Aronofsky told it like it was to Rourke, RE: the actor’s washed-up career:

→ 5 Comments Tags: , , , , | Filed in: Daily

5 responses so far

  • 1 9-08-2008 at 9:33 am

    Mr. F said...

    Fox Searchlight did wonders for “Juno”, “Once”, and “Little Miss Sunshine” so hopefully they’ll do the same this year with this and not focus entirely on “Slumdog Millionaire”

  • 2 9-08-2008 at 9:39 am

    Sam Juliano said...

    Fox Searchlight is still an inde major, so I ‘m not all that surprised, even if those other two companies would be the favorites. THE WRESTLER sold out (NYFF) about three people beforfe I got to the ticket window yesterday at Lincoln Center after a nearly three-hour wait. I secure THE CLASS and THE CHANGELING, but without THE WRESTLER and CHE, I feel the results were very bittersweet.

  • 3 9-08-2008 at 12:03 pm

    Guy Lodge said...

    Hmm, I wonder if this might not actually be rather bad news for ‘Slumdog Millionaire.’ ‘The Wrestler’ sounds rather more Academy-friendly to me, and it’s already got Rourke’s performance to anchor it through awards season.

  • 4 9-08-2008 at 12:48 pm

    mike said...

    Actually Sam, the Wrestler didn’t sell out until this afternoon, I picked up my ticket this morning on the web (true only a 3rd tier seat but better that nothing). Still hoping for a Che ticket though.

    What time did you get in line at the AFH box office, I couldn’t make it due to the death in the family, so I had to resort to the web today.