Rourke's `Wrestler' acquired by Fox Searchlight

TORONTO (AP) -- Darren Aronofsky's "The Wrestler," a drama starring Mickey Rourke that won top honors last weekend at the Venice Film Festival, was picked up Monday for U.S. distribution by Fox Searchlight.

Scheduled for release in December, "The Wrestler" likely will leap into the Academy Awards picture, particularly for Rourke's acclaimed turn as a one-time marquee figure on the professional wrestling circuit who now scrapes by on weekend bouts.

"Darren Aronofsky has created an unbelievably electrifying and compelling tale with tour de force performances," Peter Rice, president of Fox Searchlight, said as the company bought domestic rights for the film a day after its premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival.

"The Wrestler" features Rourke in a mesmerizing role as Randy "The Ram" Robinson, a former wrestling star who describes himself as a broken-down piece of meat but still scrapes by on gigs in the ring, though he's reduced to working a day job at a supermarket to survive.

The film co-stars Marisa Tomei as a stripper he pursues romantically and Evan Rachel Wood as his estranged daughter.

Rourke, 51, has flitted in and out of favor in Hollywood for decades, making an early splash in 1982's "Diner" and starring in such '80s films as "Angel Heart" and "Barfly." In 2005, he earned solid notices in the graphic-novel adaptation "Sin City."

Aronofosky directed the critical favorites "Pi" and "Requiem for a Dream" but stumbled with the 2006 commercial misfire "The Fountain."