Journey 2: The Mysterious Island

Release Date: February 10, 2012

Really? You want me to do the pec pop again?

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144 years after Jules Verne created his masterpiece, Journey to the Center of the Earth, Brendan Fraser starred in the umpteenth cinematic adaptation of the concept. This Walden Media production was in stark contrast to the previous others, as it given a contemporary setting. In addition, the movie featured state of the art filmmaking technology, which led to its unlikely box office ascension.

Journey to the Center of the Earth 3-D was the original title of the movie and while the 3-D aspect in the name was eventually dropped, it was the first major live action release to utilize James Cameron’s Fusion Camera System. During the summer of 2008, 3-D/IMAX releases were still in the nascent stage with Journey to the Center of the Earth becoming the first surprise hit for this technology.

While the $21.0 million debut for Journey to the Center of the Earth was solid for a $45 million production, it wasn’t the box office story of note. The movie was released on July 11, 2008 and by July 20, it had accrued modest box office of $43.5 million. Those of you who are long term readers of the site familiar with natural box office patterns recognize that the Brendan Fraser/Josh Hutchinson action comedy should have earned most of its domestic take in those 10 days. Instead, Journey to the Center of the Earth wasn’t even halfway done.

Thanks to a series of miniscule weekend declines throughout the rest of the summer and into the fall, Journey to the Center of the Earth hung around the box office top 20 much longer than expected. After all the movie, never finished in first place on a single box office date during its domestic run. Analysts were stymied to explain how the movie demonstrated the staying power of a much more storied release. Even now, this is difficult to do.

Journey to the Center of the Earth reached the $100 million plateau on October 4, its 86th day in theaters. By the time it finally exited the marketplace, the movie had earned $101.7 million, which is a final box office multiplier (final domestic take divided by opening weekend result) approaching 5. In this day and age, such tremendous legs are almost unprecedented for a major studio wide release. Globally, it garnered a whopping $240.9 million against its initial $40 million financial outlay. People fell in love with the new technology as well as the amiable nature of the film itself and turned it into a hit.

Therein lies the problem. In this day and age, movie studios seek to franchise everything possible. And since there isn’t a Jules Verne novel entitled Journey to the Center of the Earth 2: The Quickening, Walden Media appeared stuck. Never underestimate a bean counter, though. If a movie maker wants a sequel, they will get it even if, say, the star of the film doesn’t want to return to the project. What Walden Media chose to do was say out with the old and in with the new by dropping Fraser for action star of the moment Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.

Then, they examined the collective works of Jules Verne and determined which of his concepts made for the best sequel idea, even if the novel itself was not a sequel. They settled upon The Mysterious Island, which is a particularly strange choice given the fact that it IS a sequel to a pair of Jules Verne’s other works, Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea and In Search of The Castaways. So, they are doing a sequel to a Jules Verne novel that doesn’t have a sequel by substituting a Jules Verne novel that is a sequel to two other Jules Verne novels. Just thinking about that gives me a headache.

Ignoring all the machinations required to create Journey 2, the reality is that The Rock is a box office draw and Journey to the Center of the Earth was a well-liked movie. Plus, co-star Josh Hutcherson is seeing his star on the rise with the impending release of The Hunger Games. Add in High School Musical ingénue Vanessa Hudgens and this project appears destined to be a hit. (David Mumpower/BOP)

Vital statistics for Journey 2: The Mysterious Island
Main Cast Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson
Supporting Cast Michael Caine, Josh Hutcherson, Vanessa Hudgens, Luis Guzman, Kristin Davis
Director Brad Peyton
Screenwriter Brian Gunn, Mark Gunn
Distributor New Line Cinema
Rating PG
Talent in red has entry in The Big Picture



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