New Line digs real deep for another 3-D 'Journey'

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New Line is mounting a second 3-D "Journey to the Center of the Earth."

The first movie, made for about $60 million, was one of the first wide 3-D releases and grossed $240 million worldwide last year. Despite that, the studio waited to see the DVD numbers, which turned out to be robust, before committing to the sequel.

Contrafilm's Beau Flynn and Tripp Vinson are returning as producers along with Walden Media and Charlotte Huggins. Eric Brevig also is back as director and this time will be involved in development of the script.

New Line will fully finance the movie, a departure from the first one, which saw Walden share financing duties.

One challenge to mounting a second film was finding a story to tell because "Journey" author Jules Verne wrote just the one book. One concept considered was setting the story in Atlantis, but with several Atlantis projects under development at other studios and underwater photography costly, it was nixed.

The sequel's story line came together by chance when a spec script by Richard Outten, a writer whose most recent credited work was 1993-94 Fox TV series "The Adventures of Brisco County Jr.," landed at Walden. Titled "Mysterious Travels," the adventure tale was based on the fantasy conceit that literary tales "Gulliver's Travels," "Treasure Island" and Verne's "Mysterious Island" occurred on the same island.

The producers fell for the idea and the sprit of the spec, quickly bought it and are repurposing it to fit the "Journey" characters, which were played by Brendan Fraser and Josh Hutcherson. The actors are expected to reprise their roles.

Sam Brown and Michael Disco are overseeing for New Line.

Outten is repped by the Warden Group. (partialdiff)
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