'Green Lantern' has three in ring

Cooper, Reynolds, Timberlake circling project

Warner Bros. is about to decide who will wear the super-powered ring in "Green Lantern," the studio's latest DC Comics tentpole movie.

Along with director Martin Campbell and producers Donald De Line and Greg Berlanti, Warners has spent the past five months searching for the actor to play Hal Jordan, the hot-shot Air Force pilot who is chosen by a dying alien to be his successor in an intergalactic police force known as the Green Lanterns.

This week, the race narrowed to Bradley Cooper, Ryan Reynolds and Justin Timberlake. The clock is ticking on the decision as the holding deal the studio had on the actors expired Monday, meaning the three are now free to accept other offers.

 
The studio ordered up two rounds of screen tests with Cooper, Reynolds and Timberlake. Other actors in the early mix included Michael Fassbender, Henry Cavill and Jared Leto.

Apparently, De Line, Campbell and the studio each had a different favorite among the three finalists, making it difficult to come to a consensus.

Another issue impacting the casting process is the rising budget. "Lantern" is a full-blown space epic that is expected to cost between $150 million and $200 million, if not more. Warners would like to have the production costs at a reasonable level before proceeding.

The studio has scheduled the movie for a December 2010 opening.

Cooper, repped by CAA and Thruline, is feeling a lot of love from Warners as he stars in the studio's surprise comedy hit, "The Hangover," which has grossed $210 million domestically.

UTA-repped Reynolds recently starred in a comic book movie, Fox's "X-Men Origins: Wolverine," where he played "the merc with a mouth" Deadpool. The character is now being developed for a spinoff to which Reynolds is attached. The actor is also in theaters with Disney's romantic comedy "The Proposal."

Timberlake, repped by CAA and Rick Yorn, has been steadily building an acting resume, appearing in such dramas as "Alpha Dog" and "Black Snake Moan" while also showcasing his comedy chops with appearances on "Saturday Night Live."
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