EXCLUSIVE: Up-and-coming Brit actor Taron Egerton is in early talks with Lionsgate to star in Robin Hood: Origins as Sherwood Forest’s most famous son. The negotiations have just started and a deal might not make but Egerton, who put in a star-making performance in Matthew Vaughn’s Kingsman: The Secret Service, is clearly top of the list for the project. Ironically, the success of Kingsman — a sequel to which is expected to get greenlit by Fox — may lead to scheduling issues, but Egerton has rapidly established himself as one of the UK’s most muscular young leading men.  The actor, who is repped by United Agents in the UK and CAA, next stars opposite Tom Hardy in Brit gangster film Legend for director Brian Helgeland and Working Title. He also reunites with Vaughn — this time in a producing capacity —  in Dexter Fletcher’s Eddie The Eagle opposite Hugh Jackman.

Peaky Blinders‘ Bathurst is directing Lionsgate’s gritty, revisionist take on the legend. Joby Harold, the scribe who wrote Knights Of The Roundtable: King Arthur with Guy Ritchie directing Charlie Hunnam, has conjured up the origins story that has been likened to The Dark Knight. Here, Robin Hood returns from fighting in The Crusades and finds that Sherwood Forest is rife with corruption and evil. He forms a band of outlaws and they take matters into their own hands. The picture is being produced by Appian Way’s Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Davisson, and Safe House’s Harold and Tory Tunnell and Basil Iwanyk.

There are other Robin Hood projects also set up around town. Disney has the Brandon Barker spec Nottingham & Hood, which is said to be in the vein of Pirates Of The Caribbean and Enchanted. The Picture Company’s Alex Heineman and Andrew Rona are producing. Sony last fall bought a Robin Hood pitch for $1 million from Cory Goodman and Jeremy Lott with Aperture’s Adam Goldworm executive producing. That project, Hood, has been described as Fast And Furious meets Mission: Impossible. Warner Bros has also quietly put one of its own Robin Hood projects into development, scripted by Gangster Squad and Aquaman scribe Will Beall and produced by The Lego Movie‘s Dan Lin and John Zaozirny.

With the quartet of projects vying to get to the start post, Lionsgate is doing everything it can to get out of the gates first. It is aiming to start production in the first quarter of 2016. Next up for Lionsgate to cast — if the Egerton deal sticks — will likely be his love interest.