Fox Searchlight announced today that it will open the Toronto Film Festival sensation The Wrestler on Dec. 19. The movie, starring Mickey Rourke in what critics are calling “the role of a lifetime,” will have a limited release against such holiday behemoths as Will Smith’s Seven Pounds and Jim Carrey’s Yes Man. By rolling it out slowly, Searchlight hopes to build steam, along with Oscar buzz, that will keep it in theaters into January.

From director Darren Aronofsky, The Wrestler centers on Randy “The Ram” Robinson (Rourke), a headlining professional wrestler from the ’80s who, 20 years later, earns a living performing in high school gyms and community centers around New Jersey. The film was a critical favorite at the just-completed Toronto festival and, after an intense bidding war, was awarded to Fox Searchlight for just under $4 million.