The announcement that Darren Aronofsky would make The Wrestler was unexpected enough, but that news was quickly trumped when we learned that his follow-up could well be a movie called The Fighter. The story follows ‘Irish’ Mickey Ward, a boxer from the working-class town of Lowell, MA. That’s a far cry from Aronofsky’s earlier, more esoteric stories. 

Mark Wahlberg and Brad Pitt have been set to star, the latter being a notable addition after he dropped out of The Fountain. Wahlberg would play Mickey and Pitt his brother Dickey, who acted as his brother’s trainer. Now that The Wrestler is garnering raves and will shortly be on theatre screens (December 19! Where’s the trailer?) questions have started to fly about the status of Aronofsky’s follow-up. Sadly, the news ain’t all that good.

First off, back in July I asked Mark Wahlberg at Comic Con about the status of the film, and he wasn’t optimistic. He said he’d been training for two years to make it, but that nothing seemed to be moving. Now that he’s out doing press for Max Payne a lot of sites have been asking him the same questions we asked months ago, and getting the same answer. Though Coming Soon reports that Wahlberg said, in the same statement, that the film isn’t moving forward, and that it has been greenlit. Make of that what you will.

Then, over the weekend, The Playlist talked to Aronofsky at the New York Film Festival’s HBO Dialogues event, and he reluctantly admitted that Brad Pitt had dropped out of the picture. “Well, we’re having some problems casting it,” was Aronofsky’s first statement, which was followed by  “Brad’s not involved.” The reasons why don’t really matter, but they could well come down to scheduling. With The Fighter not set with any real start date, Pitt may have been forced to move on. But that’s only speculation, and again, it doesn’t matter. He’s not in the film at this point, full stop.

The only good news comes from /Film; last night Peter Sciretta posted the news that the film has been actively scouting locations in Lowell. That doesn’t have to mean that it’s ready to go right now; it could only indicate that the producers want to be ready to go the moment a start date is determined. Anyone who’s ever been to Lowell knows that it doesn’t change much or quickly, so locations scouted now should be valid in six months, or whenever the film can move forward.