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'The Avengers' to assemble for a sequel

By Dawn C. Chmielewski Los Angeles Times (MCT) Published: May 9, 2012

LOS ANGELES — The superhero team that conquered the U.S. box office will be suiting up for a return engagement.

Walt Disney Co. Chairman and Chief Executive Robert A. Iger said its Marvel Entertainment group is already in development on a sequel to “The Avengers,” which shattered the opening weekend box-office record domestically — and in markets around the world.

The movie, featuring a slew of stars including Robert Downey Jr., raked in $207 million in its first three days of release in the United States, bringing its global box office to around $702 million.

“It's a great illustration of why we like Marvel so much — great characters, great storytelling and a wonderful ability for them to bring their characters and stories to the big screen so effectively,” Iger told analysts Tuesday during the company's quarterly earnings call.

Disney is aggressively mining Marvel's library of comic-book characters, who were the key attraction when the Burbank entertainment giant acquired Marvel for $4 billion in 2009. Disney plans to release “Iron Man 3” and “Thor 2” next year, Iger said, with a sequel to “Captain America: The First Avenger” due out in 2014.

The success of “The Avengers” is propelling merchandise sales. In many cases, products are sold out, Iger said, prompting the global licensing team to work with licensees and retailers to restock shelves as quickly as possible. Even Marvel's big green monster, the Hulk, is getting love from consumers, thanks to Mark Ruffalo's portrayal of Bruce Banner and his powerful alter ego.

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