Blake Lively, Scarlett Johansson vie for sci-fi film

Wed Aug 11, 2010 4:10am EDT

1 of 2. Actress Blake Lively, who stars in the upcoming Warner Bros motion picture 'Green Lantern', attends an interview at Comic Con in San Diego, California July 24, 2010.

Credit: Reuters/Mike Blake

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LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - Lisbeth Salander, the title character in the adaptation of "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo," isn't the only juicy part that has actresses jumping through hoops.

Blake Lively and Scarlett Johansson are vying for the chance to star in "Gravity," an outer space thriller to which Robert Downey Jr. is attached.

Alfonso Cuaron, who is directing and co-wrote the script with his brother Jonas, is readying the Warner Bros. project.

Johansson and Lively recently tested for the lead role of a female astronaut lost in space. A decision is expected within a week or two. Filming probably would begin early next year, depending on the chosen actress' availability.

The movie's plot revolves around astronauts repairing the Hubble telescope who are hit with an avalanche of satellite junk. In a plot akin to "Cast Away," the surviving astronaut must fight her way back to Earth, where she hopes to reunite with her daughter.

The project originally was set up at Universal as a vehicle for Angelina Jolie, but it moved to Warners, where it hit debris of its own: Jolie left the project, partially because of the studio's balking at paying her $20 million fee. Although Downey brings star power to the project, his role is overshadowed by the female lead, whose struggle to survive becomes the movie's focus.

As the project underwent further developments this summer, Marion Cotillard, who stars in Warners' "Inception," tested for the lead role.

But now Lively and Johansson look like the likeliest candidates, even though they are younger than Jolie. It's unclear whether the character is still written as a mother in the latest draft, though both actresses have played older than their ages in recent movies.

Lively is fast becoming a Warners favorite. The studio is high on the actress because of her work in Ben Affleck's upcoming crime drama "The Town," and it has cast her in "Green Lantern."

Johansson, meanwhile, has a strong working relationship with Downey, with whom she co-starred in "Iron Man 2," where she stole scenes as the Black Widow.

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