It would seem the big screen just cannot get enough of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson these days, much to the delight of his growing army of fans. Aside from his recurring role in the Fast And Furious franchise, the current release of Hercules, and the long-running, unconfirmed rumour of his future casting as superhero Shazam, Johnson is now confirmed as returning to the Journey franchise.
The family favourite fantasy-adventure film series began in 2008 with Journey To The Center Of The Earth, starring Brendan Fraser and Josh Hutcherson. The second instalment – Journey 2: The Mysterious Island – arrived in 2012, with Dwayne Johnson replacing Brendan Fraser in the lead role, alongside the returning Josh Hutcherson. Both films were box office hits, despite the second film receiving relatively negative reviews, which makes today’s sequel confirmations more of an inevitability than a surprise.
The difference with the next two franchise entries will be the writing team. Brian and Mark Gunn wrote Journey 2, and were initially hired to write the sequel. However, with much of the criticism levelled at the film having been based on problems with the script, New Line Cinema has now hired Chad and Carey Hayes (The Conjuring) to create a final draft, which will apparently take the story in an entirely new direction. The Hayes brothers wrote the currently in-production San Andreas for Dwayne Johnson, and are said to be working on MGM’s Seal Team 666 for the star, too. The director remains the same – Brad Peyton shepherded Journey 2 to box office glory, and will return to the helm for Journey 3, possibly filming Journey 4 back-to-back. Having also just directed San Andreas, it would seem that Peyton and the Hayes Brothers are core members of Team Johnson.
Though Josh Hutcherson has yet to officially confirm his involvement in the sequels, there seems to be an assumption that he will return in some capacity – despite his profile having risen considerably with his major role in The Hunger Games franchise. Johnson, too, is enjoying a rise in professional stock, but the popularity of the Journey film franchise seems to be drawing the cast back to the project. That’s great for the fans, and hopefully, not too much of a hindrance to the career of Dwayne Johnson – who is fast becoming one of the most beloved movie stars of his generation.