Paving the way for the production and release of The Avengers, Marvel announced today an adjusted release pipeline for its self-produced feature film properties that reflects the first time individual super hero characters and story arcs will be inter-woven and culminate in a multi-character motion picture.

Separately, Marvel Studios confirmed today that Sony Pictures Entertainment will release Spider-Man 4 on May 6, 2011. Additionally, Marvel Studios has revised the release dates for Thor and The First Avenger: Captain America as part of its release strategy for an uninterrupted road to The Avengers, now debuting May 4, 2012.

A Marvel character-based film will now launch the summer box office season for three years in a row, from 2010 through 2012.

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"This new schedule strongly sequences Marvel's movie debut dates, big screen character introductions and momentum. It maximizes the visibility of our single character-focused films, leading to the highly anticipated release of the multi-character The Avengers film in 2012," said David Maisel, Chairman, Marvel Studios.

Sony Pictures' and Marvel Studios' Spider-Man 4 is slated for May 6, 2011. To date, all three motion pictures in the phenomenally successful Spider-Man franchise have generated nearly $2.5 billion worldwide theatrically.

Below is Marvel Studios' 2010-2012 updated release schedule for its slate of self-produced and financed feature films:

Iron Man 2: formerly May 7, 2010, now May 7, 2010

Thor: formerly July 16, 2010, now June 17, 2011

The First Avenger: Captain America: formerly May 6, 2011, now July 22, 2011

The Avengers: formerly July 15, 2011, now May 4, 2012

The release date for Iron Man 2 remains unchanged. Iron Man 2 is the sequel to the blockbuster film, Iron Man, which has grossed nearly $600 million worldwide.