Movie fans rewarded 'Iron Man' with box office success over the weekend and the film's producer Marvel Entertainment returned the favor, announcing a sequel to the film set for release in 2010.

'Iron man' rode last week's overwhelmingly positive reviews and popular appeal to earn gross receipts of $100.75 million over the three-day weekend. It was the second-best opening ever for a non-sequel film, just behind Spider-Man in 2002 which earned $114.8 million. Marvel will release Iron Man 2 on April 30, 2010.

Marvel, the character-based entertainment and licensing company, also updated its upcoming film production schedule, locking in its release schedule for the next three years.

The Incredible Hulk is set for release in six weeks. In 2009, the company will not release any film, saying it will focus its efforts to maximize the success of the Iron Man sequel and another superhero film, Thor, to be released on June 4, 2010.

For 2011 Marvel is planning a pair of films based on The Avengers, a team of Marvel characters which include Captain America. The strategy is to release the Captain America film May 6, 2010, followed by The Avengers in July 2011.

The success of Iron Man over the weekend is a favorable start for Marvel's efforts to release its own films instead of licensing its characters out to other movie studios.

The highly successful Spider-Man series of films were produced by Sony, which received the lion's share of profits. Marvel has been receiving relatively smaller royalties.


Investors also received their own share of good news. Along with the new movies lineup and box office results, Marvel released its first quarter earnings on Monday, reporting a net income $45.2 million, 58 cents per share, down from $46.8 million, or 54 cents per share. The results beat Wall Street consensus estimates of 43 cents per share.

Sales at the company's major divisions were down for the quarter. Overall, net revenue was down 25 percent to $112.6 million.

The licensing division fell 41 percent to $84.6 million from a year earlier. Publishing sales were down 3.8 percent to $26.5 million. Film production net sales were down $1 million to $3 million.