Helmer likely to cast 'April' star after read-through

Warner Bros. is zeroing in on Katie Holmes for the female lead of its next “Batman” film.

Holmes has been offered the role, subject to a screen test with Christian Bale that will be conducted by director Christopher Nolan. While Nolan considered many young actresses to play Batman’s love interest Rachel, Holmes is the only actress who will do a screen test. It is considered likely that a deal will follow shortly after.

Holmes would be the third thesp cast. Nolan, who came aboard the film with his producing partner Emma Thomas, first set Christian Bale as the Caped Crusader, and recently began negotiating with Michael Caine to play his butler, Alfred.

They’ve been mum about the storyline that was scripted by David Goyer, but WB and Nolan are gearing up for a 2004 start date and 2005 release of what had been the studio’s most viable franchise until “The Matrix.” WB exec Greg Silverman is the presiding Bat-exec.

While she is best known for “Dawson’s Creek,” the CAA-repped Holmes has quietly established herself on screen by working with such directors as Ang Lee, Curtis Hanson and Sam Raimi. She just opened in “The Singing Detective” and “Pieces of April,” and she has been working on the Forest Whitaker-directed “First Daughter.”

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