Tony Stark's sticking to the first weekend of the summer with his third solo adventure, but his iron will be cooled by a longer wait. Distributor Walt Disney Pictures announced today that Iron Man 3 will launch May 3, 2013.
The first official release of Summer 2013, Iron Man 3, will arrive three years after its predecessor, though only two years separated Iron Man 2 from the first Iron Man. That pattern is similar to the first three Spider-Man movies. However, Tony Stark will be on screen a year earlier as part of the ensemble of The Avengers, which is scheduled for May 4, 2012, and there's a good chance the character will have cameos in the other Marvel Comics adaptations leading up to that release (Thor, Captain America: The First Avenger) as he did in The Incredible Hulk.
The first Iron Man kicked off Summer 2008 with a rousing $98.6 million and went on to earn $318.4 million by the end of its run, ranking as the fifth highest-grossing superhero movie ever. Iron Man 2 blasted off with even greater fanfare ($128.1 million first weekend) in early May of this year, but burnt out more quickly, winding up with $312.1 million (good for sixth place among superhero movies). Both were distributed by Paramount Pictures.
Disney will also replace Paramount as distributor on The Avengers, stemming from the studio's recent acquisition of Marvel. In a joint press release, the studios announced that Disney will pay Paramount $115 million for the rights to Iron Man 3 and The Avengers on the movies' release dates. The payments will be minimum guarantees against Paramount's distribution fees. Paramount will remain the distributor of Thor and Captain America.