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LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - Warner Bros. is about to decide who will wear the super-powered ring in "Green Lantern," the studio's latest DC Comics movie, and the race has narrowed to Bradley Cooper, Ryan Reynolds and Justin Timberlake.
Along with director Martin Campbell and producers Donald De Line and Greg Berlanti, the studio 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.
The clock is ticking on the decision. The holding deal the studio had on the actors expired Monday, meaning that 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 affecting 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 is feeling a lot of love from Warners; he's one of the stars of the studio's surprise comedy hit, "The Hangover," which has grossed $210 million domestically.
Reynolds recently starred in a comic-book movie, Fox's "X-Men Origins: Wolverine," in which he played "Merc with a Mouth" Deadpool. The character is now being developed for a spinoff in which Reynolds will star. The actor also stars in the romantic comedy "The Proposal."
Timberlake has been steadily building an acting resume, appearing in such dramas as "Alpha Dog" and "Black Snake Moan" while showcasing his comedy chops with appearances on "Saturday Night Live."
Editing by Sheri Linden at Reuters