September 2, 2010 / 3:25 AM / 8 years ago

Dwayne Johnson to star in "Center of Earth" sequel

Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson arrives at the 2010 MTV Movie Awards in Los Angeles June 6, 2010. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - Dwayne Johnson is strapping on a backpack to replace Brendan Fraser in a 3D sequel to the 2008 remake “Journey to the Center of the Earth.”

Brad Peyton is on board to direct “Journey 2: The Mysterious Island,” in which Josh Hutcherson will reprise his role as burgeoning explorer Sean Anderson.

Fraser is not returning after hitting an impasse over start dates. That forced New Line to find a new star. Its deal with Johnson is expected to close this week.

Johnson will play the boyfriend of Hutcherson’s mom, whom Hutcherson is forced to bring on a trip to a mythical and monstrous island to find his missing grandfather. The script is loosely based on Jules Verne’s “The Mysterious Island.”

Three other characters will be introduced in the movie and cast during the next few weeks. Production is eyeing a late October start in North Carolina and Hawaii.

Like the first movie, which beat the 3D craze by more than a year and made more than $250 million worldwide in 2008, the sequel will be shot and released in 3D.

Johnson is shooting “The Fast and the Furious 5” and next stars in “Faster,” an action movie that opens over Thanksgiving.

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