Every studio out there wants to be responsible for the next popular young adult book-turned-movie franchise, following in Harry Potter and Twilight‘s footsteps. One of the contestants in said unofficial competition is Screen Gems with The Mortal Instruments, a big screen treatment of author Cassandra Clare’s popular fantasy-adventure, which has been in the works since 2009.

Studio heads have finally settled on an actor to play the male lead in the film – and it’s none other than Camelot‘s young King Arthur, Jamie Campbell Bower.

Deadline says that a deal is being worked out right now for Bower to star in Mortal Instruments as Jace Wayland, a deadly Shadowhunter (read: demon hunter). In addition to his Camelot role, Bower (as it were) plays a supporting role in the two-part finales for both the Harry Potter series and The Twilight Saga – not to mention, he made his big screen debut in Tim Burton’s Sweeney Todd movie. Clearly he’s an up-and-coming actor who’s managed to make an impression around Hollywood.

Clare’s Mortal Instruments tells the story of fifteen-year-old Clary Fray, a girl who discovers she possesses “The Sight” – an ability which allows her to see both monsters and the Shadowhunters that keep them in check. When her mother is kidnapped and she herself barely survives an attack by an especially dangerous demon, Clary must set out to learn the truth about her heritage and become a warrior in her own right.

When this project was first announced, the reported plan was to compile the first three novels in Clare’s Mortal Instruments series (“City of Bones”, “City of Ashes”, and “City of Glass”) for the film adaptation. That may still be the plan, to some degree.

Currently set to star as Clary in Mortal Instruments is actress Lily Collins, who will also play a battle-ready gal in Tarsem Singh’s upcoming Snow White retelling. Like The Hunger Games actress Jennifer Lawrence, Collins has clearly demonstrated herself to be capable of both portraying a strong female character onscreen, and becoming the starlet to headline a potential new franchise, in the eyes of studio heads.

Mortal Instruments has drawn comparisons before to Buffy the Vampire Slayer in that it features a female variation on the traditionally male hero archetype, while telling her tale within the context of a contemporary monster mythology. However, Clare’s original novels are not quite so heavy on the intentional camp values and humor that Joss Whedon’s creation is so well renowned for.

While other young adult literary projects hoping to kickoff a new franchise (The Hunger Games, The Seventh Son) are being handled by well-regarded filmmakers like Gary Ross or Sergey Bodrov, The Mortal Instruments will feature former visual effects guru Scott Charles Stewart (Legion, Priest) in the director’s chair. Given the quality of Stewart’s previous movies – and their similarities to Mortal Instruments – that doesn’t exactly bode well for his new fantasy action flick.

Paul Bettany in ‘Priest’

The Mortal Instruments book series is a massive best-seller and has a strong fanbase, so there’s definitely an audience who wants to see it done justice on the big screen. No one denies that Stewart is capable at delivering visually slick action sequences featuring gruesome supernatural beasts, but his directorial efforts up to now have been pretty lackluster. Stewart isn’t writing the Mortal Instruments screenplay, though, so that should help on the narrative side of things.

Expect to hear more about The Mortal Instruments in the near future.

Source: Deadline