It’s been a while since we’ve gotten a concrete update on Darren Aronofsky‘s The Fighter, the real-life story of boxer “Irish” Micky Ward’s (to be played by Mark Wahlberg) unlikely road to the world lightweight title. His Rocky-like rise was guided by half-brother Dicky (Brad Pitt), a boxer-turned-trainer who rebounded in life after nearly being KO’d by drugs and crime. When we talked with director Darren Aronofsky last month, we got the impression that The Fighter might not be happening. It wasn’t anything Aronofsky said in particular, but what he didn’t say, and how he said it

“We have a beautiful screenplay. It’s based on, you probably know, Mickey Ward. It’s a great great project. As I told you I love sports movies. Rudy and Chariots of Fire are some of my favorite films. Fighter is a great script. Scott Silver wrote it. He’s the guy who wrote Eight Mile. So we have a great script, we’re just trying to cast it and try and figure out how it’s going to get made,” said Aronofsky, later adding: “Mark is training. Mark’s totally gung-ho” … “It’s been in development so long there’s a lot of money against it already. They’re trying to figure that out but I’m ready to go on it.”

Scott Silver is just the last on the long list of writers who have done work on the project. An older screenplay draft I have lists four writers: Paul Tamasy, Eric Johnson, Lewis Colick and Paul Attanasio. So when Aronofsky says “there’s a lot of money against it already” he means that Paramount has dished out a lot of money in the development of the film

Wahlberg told MTV that an October shoot was planned, but that is no longer the case. It doesn’t sound good but Wahlberg isn’t giving up. He’s been training for the role for almost two years. The actor tells Coming Soon:

“I’m so focused on “Fighter” and that’s not even happening so it’s all depressing. I’m just looking for the next thing. I’m always looking for the next thing. I’ve done three or four movies since I’ve been training for Fighter,” Wahlberg said, later adding: “They finally got the green light, now we have to figure out the cast thing. I’m going to meet with Darren Aronofsky on Tuesday in New York so we’ll see.”

Am I the only one confused about what he jsut said? At first he says it isn’t happening, then five seconds later says that it got a greenlight, they just need to figure out casting and he’s meeting with Darren this week. The actor went on to say how he could “train for another six months and look like a world class fighter” giving the project more realism than probably any other Hollywood boxing project to date. Sounds like a case of mixed signals to me.

But what exactly is the casting situation that Wahlberg is referring to? The Playlist just spoke with Aronofsky at the New York Film Festival, and the director reluctantly admitted that Brad Pitt is no longer involved with the project.

“We’re having some problems casting it,” Aronofsky said. “We’ll see what happens.”

Doesn’t exactly sound promising does it? Pitt joined the project last year, replacing Matt Damon, who had become too busy with other projects. And I’m willing to bet that Damon’s slate hasn’t cleared up much in the last 13 months. Ward is a key role with certain talent requirements. And from what I was told, Aronofsky is currently working to develop Robocop for MGM. But don’t count The Fighter out just yet.

I have it on good authority that location supervisions from Paramount have been scouting out locations in Lowell Massachusetts over the last few weeks. They have been visiting bars, taverns and local gyms. So the big question is, why would they be doing location scouts if the film isn’t moving forward? There is so much good buzz about the script, and with Aronofsky’s The Wrestler garnering so much attention and even award buzz, you would think that Aronofsky would have his pick of talent for the upcoming project. You would also think that Paramount would be eager to push this film into production no matter how much money the film has racked up in development so far…

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