By Oliver Lyttelton | www.oliverlyttelton.com January 21, 2011 at 3:07AM
With the "Twilight" series finally set to come to an end next year (it's only two years since the first film debuted, but it still feels interminable), the search is on for the next hot teen franchise, with seemingly every series of young adult novels being optioned and fast-tracked to the screen. The man who seems to be dominating the subgenre at present is 20-year-old British actor Alex Pettyfer, who's gone from starring in the abominable teen-Bond flick "Stormbreaker" to being one of the hottest young actors in Hollywood.
The actor has two "Twilight"-aping projects due to hit screens in the next few months, with D.J. Caruso's alien flick "I Am Number Four" released next month, and the long-delayed "Beastly" following in March, and now it looks like the actor may be heading for another potential franchise. Vulture report that Pettyfer, who'll also be seen in Andrew Niccol's "Now" later in the year, has been offered the lead role in "Mortal Instruments: City of Bones," Screen Gems' adaptation of the first in the best-selling young-adult series by Cassandra Clare.
The plot is the usual post-Stephanie Meyer mix of forbidden love and supernatural creatures, following a girl and her best friend, who meets and falls for Jace, an invisible demon hunter -- the role that Pettyfer's been offered. As far as we can tell, the series, which has had three of the eventual six books published, follows the "Twilight" template fairly closely, right down to the unrequited love from the best friend, although in *spoiler* an incestuous, "Star Wars" style twist on the formula, the two leads spend much of the series fighting their attraction to each other, despite believing that they're brother and sister, which at the very least, should ensure a healthy box office turn-out in the Appalachian mountains.
The studio are said to be hot and heavy on Pettyfer, to the extent that studio boss Clint Culpepper will only green-light the film if they can land the actor. If he does sign on, Pettyfer would join actress Lily Collins ("The Blind Side"), who as the daughter of musician Phil Collins presumably knows a thing or two about hideous creatures from the depths of hell. The terrible director of "Legion" and "Priest," Scott Stewart, is at the helm, so we're not exactly holding out hope for this one.
Negotiations with Pettyfer, who apparently is heavily tattoed, matching the character he would play, are set to being in the next few days, and if all goes well, an announcement should follow soon after. With filming beginning in March, this would presumably put Pettyfer out of the running for Bryan Singer's "Jack the Giant Killer," and delay the biopic of racing driver James Hunt that he's attached to at DreamWorks. Assuming the studio can get their ducks in a row and make their date, we imagine the movie'll hit theaters in 2012.