We've known basically since the first movie came out that New Line was anxious to make a sequel to Journey to the Center of the Earth and that Josh Hutcherson was going to reprise his role, even though star Brendan Fraser was going nowhere near it. For a while it looked as if Hutcherson was going to take over as leading man-- he's the kid who was almost Spider-Man after all-- but now the studio has brought in another actor with family-friendly credentials to anchor the film. THR reports that Dwayne Johnson is set to star in the film, now titled Journey 2: The Mysterious Island and filming in October.

Brad Peyton, most recently of Cats & Dogs : The Revenge of Kitty Galore, will be taking over as director, making Hutcherson pretty much the only link between the two films. Well, Hutcherson and Jules Verne-- the sequel will be based on another of the sci-fi author's stories, The Mysterious Island, which will probably be tweaked heavily for the kid-friendly film (the book is set during the Civil War, for starters). In this story Johnson will play a boyfriend of Hutcherson's mom who tags along when the kid travels to the mythical island to find his long-lost grandfather. In the book the island turned out to be the secret home of Captain Nemo from 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea; wanna take any bets on there being a tie-in there?

The new movie will also be filmed in 3D, which would normally make me roll my eyes, but I unabashedly loved the 3D in Journey to the Center of the Earth and would count on it being just as fun this time around. Johnson is basically a placeholder as an actor, but I like Hutcherson a lot too, so I'm going to hold out some hope for this one. That doesn't mean I'll admit it when I inevitably see it twice in the summer of 2012, though, so don't even try.

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