UPDATE: Marvel Studios has weighed in with a statement that confirms the 2015 release date that Deadline had heard about the sequel to The Avengers. “Joss Whedon has signed an exclusive deal with Marvel Studios for film and television through the end of June 2015. As part of that deal, Whedon will write and direct Marvel’s The Avengers 2 as well as help develop a new live action series for Marvel Television at ABC. He will also contribute creatively to the next phase of Marvel’s cinematic universe.”
EARLIER, 5:27 PM EST: Well, this didn’t exactly seem much of a cliffhanger, but Disney CEO Bob Iger announced at today’s earnings call that Joss Whedon will be back to write and direct a second installment of The Avengers. Not only that; Whedon, who took the subpar film Buffy The Vampire Slayer and turned it onto a huge TV hit, will develop a live-action TV series involving Marvel characters as Disney continues to make the most out of its $4 billion acquisition of the superhero factory. It hasn’t been determined whether the series Whedon will work on will be the Avengers-themed drama Marvel and ABC already have in the works. Iger didn’t mention a release date for Avengers 2, or provide its official title, but we are probably looking at 2015.
The announcement comes just a few weeks after Whedon told an audience at Comic-Con that he was still undecided about directing a sequel, but of course nobody believed him. The Avengers has grossed $1.46B since it was released in May — $616.8M of that from domestic venues — making it the third top grossing film of all time. Not only that; it was a damn good superhero film with plenty of action and the funny and clever dialogue that is Whedon’s signature.
While Disney didn’t say specifically how much the film contributed to its earnings in the quarter that ended in June, it notes in an SEC filing that the film was “primarily” responsible for a 25% increase in theatrical distribution revenue to $834M. It certainly has vanquished any doubts about whether Disney overpaid for Marvel.