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Schedule Looks Super For Marvel

Following a huge, $100 million-plus opening weekend for its first film IRON MAN, Marvel Studios has announced their schedule through 2011, per VARIETY.

As rumored, the IRON MAN sequel will bow on April 30, 2010, the first summer weekend of the year. THOR is also headed for a '10 opening on June 4. Matthew Vaughn is set to direct the film about the Norse god who wields a giant hammer.

In 2011, Marvel will release THE FIRST AVENGER: CAPTAIN AMERICA on May 6 and THE AVENGERS in July. The second will be written by Zak Penn and features Iron Man, Hulk, Captain America and Thor.

Paramount will distribute all, as part of their deal with Marvel.

The announcement marks the first studio to claim those weekends for tentpole projects. Marvel's second self-financed movie, THE INCREDIBLE HULK opens June 13 with Universal distributing.

Marvel was forced to sit out 2009 because of the writers strike and the development delays it caused.

Edgar Wright is attached to write and direct ANT-MAN, but no release date has been given.

In just four days, IRON MAN brought in $102 million domestically, allowing Marvel to finally directly cash in on its characters. Sony and Fox have made a lot of money from the success of the SPIDER-MAN, X-MEN and FANTASTIC FOUR franchises, all based on Marvel properties.

A fourth SPIDER-MAN is in the works. "This is clearly a transformative time for Marvel," said Marvel Studios chairman David Maisel in a conference call with investors. "It was important for us to get much more control of our destiny and the ability to greenlight and make these movies on a predictable basis."

Shares of parent company Marvel Ent. rose more than 9 percent on Monday to close at $33.10, a gain of $2.85.

Marvel's profits for the first quarter of the year were down 3 percent from last year, when SPIDER-MAN 3 was about to be released. They upped their outlook for the rest of the year, with profits an expected $104 million to $122 million on revenue of $370 million to $400 million. Previous forecasts were between $100 million and $118 million.

Forecasts do not include revenues or costs tied to box office, home video, TV or media sales for IRON MAN or HULK.