Looking to upgrade their muscle, the folks behind New Line's Journey 2: The Mysterious Island have replaced their original hero, Brendan Fraser, with Dwayne "I Bet He Hates It When We Call Him The Rock" Johnson. The 2008 3D film landed several months before Avatar blasted the lid off 3D, and even so it still managed to cough up over $100 million at the domestic box office (and $241 million worldwide). Fraser was originally supposed to return, but issues with start dates and the fact that Journey to the Center of the Earth director Eric Brevig couldn't return (the sequel will be helmed by Brad Peyton) all added up to a big fat no from the School Ties (yeah I went there!) star.
Is Johnson and upgrade or downgrade? He's certainly someone who's capable of handling the material. After starting out (and then recently returning to) tough guy flicks, Johnson sandwiched in a slew of kid-oriented fare like Race to Witch Mountain and Tooth Fairy. He can do adventure comedy, sure (even though he does sort of look awkward at times), and, let's face it -- he just feels like the kind of guy you get to replace Brednan Fraser in an action-adventure. We'll leave it up to you to decide whether that's a good thing or a bad thing.
Johnson will be joined by Josh Hutcherson (reprising his role from the first film), and he'll be playing the boyfriend of Hutcherson's mom who is somehow forced to join the kid on a trip to a mythical and mysterious island to search for the boy's missing grandfather. The script is loosely based on Jules Verne's The Mysterious Island. More casting is expected to roll out in the coming weeks, and as of now Journey 2: The Mysterious Island will hit theaters (in 3D!) on September 23, 2011.