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FOX SEARCHLIGHT PICTURES

ACQUIRES “THE WRESTLER”

Specialty Arm Acquires US Rights

Toronto, Ontario, CANADA September 8, 2008 – Fox Searchlight Pictures President Peter Rice today announced that the company has acquired US rights to the riveting drama THE WRESTLER, which had its North American premiere last night at the Toronto International Film Festival and won the Golden Lion at the 2008 Venice Film Festival. Directed by Darren Aronofsky and written by Rob Siegel, THE WRESTLER stars Mickey Rourke, Marisa Tomei and Evan Rachel Wood. The film was produced by Scott Franklin and Darren Aronofsky thru Protozoa Pictures. Vincent Maraval, Agnes Mentre and Jennifer Roth served as executive producers and Mark Heyman co-produced. The film is scheduled to be released in December 2008.

Said Fox Searchlight Pictures President Peter Rice, "Darren Aronofsky has created an unbelievably electrifying and compelling tale with tour de force performances. We are delighted to be releasing this brilliantly executed film and thank Wild Bunch for choosing Searchlight."

Added Darren Aronofsky, "I've known Peter Rice for many, many years and am excited and honored to finally get a chance to collaborate with him and his team."

Said Vincent Maraval "We are delighted to have closed the deal with Fox Searchlight which we believe is the best distributor for this movie."

Back in the late '80s, Randy "The Ram" Robinson (Mickey Rourke) was a headlining professional wrestler. Now, twenty years later, he ekes out a living performing for handfuls of diehard wrestling fans in high school gyms and community centers around New Jersey.

Estranged from his daughter (Evan Rachel Wood) and unable to sustain any real relationships, Randy lives for the thrill of the show and the adoration of his fans. However, a heart attack forces him into retirement. As his sense of identity starts to slip away, he begins to evaluate the state of his life -- trying to reconnect with his daughter, and strikes up a blossoming romance with an aging stripper (Marisa Tomei). Yet all this cannot compare to the allure of the ring and passion for his art, which threatens to pull Randy "The Ram" back into his world of wrestling.

Director Darren Aronofsky presents a powerful portrait of a battered dreamer, who despite himself and the odds stacked against him, lives to be a hero once again in the only place he considers home – inside the ring.

The deal was brokered on Fox Searchlight’s side by Senior Vice President of Acquisitions Tony Safford and Vice President of Business Affairs Megan O’Brien. Creative Artists Agency (CAA), which packaged the film, is handling the North American rights. Darren Aronofsky was represented by CAA and Carlos Goodman.

Fox Searchlight Pictures is a specialty film company that both finances and acquires motion pictures. It has its own marketing and distribution operations, and its films are distributed internationally by Twentieth Century Fox. Fox Searchlight Pictures is a unit of Fox Filmed Entertainment, a unit of Fox Entertainment Group.

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Roddy Piper, Mickey Rourke, Greg 'The Hammer' Valentine and Brutus 'The Barber' Beefcake at The Wrestler premier

 

Pro Wrestling Torch - 1st January 2009

-- In a few weeks, we'll know whether "The Wrestler" will have a seat at the table for the prestigious Academy Awards ceremony that recognizes the best in movies for the year. Mickey Rourke is a virtual lock to be nominated for Best Actor, as is Bruce Springsteen's "The Wrestler" track for Best Original Song in a movie.

If WWE's Vince McMahon had a vote, he certainly wouldn't pick "The Wrestler," as we reported yesterday that McMahon believes the movie is below WWE. The thematic material related to wrestling is set in the long-forgotten territory era and under-the-radar independent wrestling scene of today, which gives the movie its gritty feel perfect for Mickey Rourke's character.

WWE wants to distance itself from pro wrestling, as evidenced by corporate-friendly statements from CEO Linda McMahon about the company not being in the wrestling business, but the entertainment genre, competing against the NFL, NBA, and entertainers putting on rock concerts.

McMahon most-likely feels the movie being any way associated with WWE would bring the company down to a level they long-since tried to escape from. WWE's attitude of superiority has been displayed in recent JBL promos and the Shawn Michaels "employee" storyline where HBK is willing to sell his soul to JBL to prevent becoming Randy "the Ram" Robinson.

The real story continues to be wrestlers being gobbled up and spit out if they aren't protective of themselves and the investment they're making with their bodies. Other than the two irreplaceables - John Cena and Triple H - McMahon can always find someone else to slide onto the card.

"The Wrestler" hits too close to home with McMahon, who obviously doesn't want his company associated with low-rent indy wrestling, but also because he's the corporate face of a wrestling business that couldn't generate mainstream interest unless someone died or was blown up in a limo.

Now, the positive accolades are going to a movie that focuses on something outside the WWE machine and not kids dancing in the ring with Finlay or WWE touring Iraq. McMahon simply won't stand for that.

Torch reader stonecoldmark commented on the article we posted yesterday about WWE's official anti-"The Wrestler" position after McMahon picked up his movie screening in December. Here's what scmark had to say:

Ask Jake Roberts or Roddy Piper if any of what is in "The Wrester" pertains to them. The Wrestler is about what happens when the WWE dumps these guys. Guys like Duggan are lucky Vince still keeps them employed. Even HUGE stars like Hogan and Flair can be included. Flair never knew when to call it quits because it's all he's known. Hogan would still give it a try if Vince gave him a chance.

The Wrestler should be a calling card for anyone that wants to get into the biz, not everyone can get a job in the big-time and if you do save that money. This film speaks to not just wrestlers, but can apply to any job where the excitement, fame, and money can fade seemingly overnight. Just ask Mickey Rourke. The movie is his life.

Vince is right it's not the WWE, but does that mean his guys are treated any better? Not on your life with that schedule. I think wrestling five or six days a week is just as bad as taking a stapler to your head for one night on a Saturday in Secaucus.

Greg Tingle comment...

The Wrestler is not the WWE, however parts of do tell part of the story of workers with the WWWE in years gone by. Thank god that The Wrestler is not the WWE, and Vince McMahon and the top brass at the WWE have every right to distance themselves from the film. At least some lessons got learned along the way, and the WWE body count is not as high as it once was. If pro wrestling schools showed The Wrestler to potential students before they signed on I think its likely that the sign up rates for wrestling academy's would decline. One needs to be mindful of what they wish for - they might just get it. The Wrestler is a perfect example of show business not being all it's often cranked up to me, and in my position as a media agent I'm in the position to know this. All respect to Roddy Piper, Greg Valentine and many other legends for supporting The Wrestler and Mickey Rourke's effort. Piper's line about it being "not his story, but it is my story" is classic, but in reality Piper came out of the business in better shape than most, and he still picks up a WWE cheque from time to time. Are we one step closer to a wrestling union? I doubt it, but you never know. The US is cracking down on gambling and other moral and ethics type matters, but will they care enough to ensure professional entertainers, wrestlers and the like don't end up on the scrap heap when promoters are finished getting their slice of meat from them? McMahon has cleaned up his act a hell of a lot over the past 5 years or so, and let's hope other wrestling promoters do the same. The Wrestler gets 5 stars for impact, story telling and acting, and talk about a movie for the times.