There’s been a lot of news in the past 24-hours around the next project of director Darren Aronofsky (The Wrestler). Titled Black Swan, the new pic tells the story of Nina (Natalie Portman), a veteran ballerina who finds herself locked in a competitive showdown with a rival dancer named Lilly (Mila Kunis) “with the stakes and twists increasing as the dancers approach a big performance.” Of course, there is also the connundrum of whether or not Lilly is real, a supernatural apparition or if she’s just delusional. Either way, it has been reported that Nina and Lilly have “ecstasy-induced hungry aggressive angry sex.” That last tidbit has been the source of much talk on the web, naturally.

On to the news — our friends at /Film reported Sunday that Vincent Cassel, Winona Ryder and Barbara Hershey have all joined the cast of the film, which is set to shoot very soon. Ryder will play Beth, Nina’s friend of sorts who is the school’s lead dancer and is nearing the end of her career. The plot centers around the other dancers’ chase to replace her as Odette, the Swan Queen, in the next big ballet: Swan Lake.

Cassel will play the director of the stage production, the “handsome but sinister Yevna.” And Barbara Hershey will play Nina’s mother, a role that Peter a /Film reports was originally intended for Meryl Streep. He also reported that Fox Searchlight was very close to acquiring the rights to the film, which was being shopped around after being let go by Universal.

Today, Reuters is confirming the report regard Searchlight, saying that the 20th Century Fox specialty label has closed the deal and will distribute Black Swan, just as they did Aronofsky’s The Wrestler. Shooting is scheduled to start in New York before the end of the year, with a budget of $10-12 million. This is an easy move to support for anyone in the know, as Searchlight is still the best specialty distributor out there — despite a lackluster 2009.

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