With a decent critical reception, $240 million box office take worldwide and tons more in the bank from from the back-end (home video and TV deals, etc.), it was clear that New Line would be pushing for a sequel to the family-friendly hit, Journey to the Center of the Earth. Unfortunately for fans and the studio, we found out back in May that star Brendan Fraser may not return for the sequel, now titled Journey 2: The Mysterious Island.

At the time it was thought that Fraser may not be back due to the director change, having taken part in the first Journey to the Center of the Earth in large part due to the involvement of Eric Brevig who won’t be back for the sequel.  Now it’s being reported that Fraser’s schedule is too busy and that Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson will take over as the lead for the sequel.

The Hollywood Reporter’s Heat Vision blog has the exclusive that Dwayne Johnson is in negotiations to star in the film and is expected to sign later this week. Josh Hutcherson, who starred in the first film as Fraser’s nephew, will be back to reprise his role as young Sean Anderson and Johnson will step in as a new character, playing the boyfriend of Hutcherson’s mom. Johnson will be one of four new characters added for the sequel and actors will be announced shortly for those roles.

The story will follow Sean Anderson (Hutcherson) as he travels to an island to search for his missing grandfather. Of course, this island isn’t your typical landmass filled with typical creatures and Johnson is forced to tag along. It’s another family-friendly adventure for the ex-wrestler.

Journey to the Center of the Earth made big bank advertising itself as a 3D family adventure before Avatar changed the 3D landscape and made studios go 3D for all of their movies. The sequel will do the same and will be shot in 3D. I wonder if Fraser will have a cameo?

Journey 2: The Mysterious Island begins shooting in October for a September 23, 2011 release date.

Share your thoughts in the comments and with us on Twitter @rob_keyes and @screenrant.

Source: THR