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New Release Dates for ‘X-Men: First Class’, ‘Planet of the Apes’ and ‘Thor’ Sequels

Today was a big day to get the lay of the blockbuster landscape for the next few years. With summer 2012 well underway, studios are looking to the future for their next hits; announcements for the sequels to X-Men: First Class, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, and Thor all made news today.

“First Class” was one of the more frantic releases of last summer; director Matthew Vaughn was brought on just under a year before its release and the whole show going back for reshoots months before the film debuted. Despite its many hiccups, “First Class” was met with strong praise from critics and audiences, bringing some dignity back to the “X-Men” series and talk of a sequel, which is now set to be released July 18, 2014.

Given that 20th Century Fox doesn’t want to screw up a good thing, the studio is opting to take its time with the development of the still-untitled sequel that’s expected to expand on the history of Professor X (James McAvoy) and Magneto (Michael Fassbender). The sequel almost hit another snag when Jennifer Lawrence (who played Mystique) became obligated to continue production on The Hunger Games: Catching Fire instead of the X-sequel, but Fox moved the start date for “X-Men” to January 2013 so that many (if not most) of the principal actors could return to their roles along with Vaughn in the director’s chair. Given how far the film is to being released, we wouldn’t expect specific plot details anytime soon.

We’ve also got a little more clarity on the sequel to another hit from Fox’s 2011 slate in Rise of the Planet of the Apes. The sequel will be called Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and hit theaters May 23, 2014. An unexpected hit for Fox in August of last year, the story of Caesar (Andy Serkis) and his revolution amassed more than $480 million worldwide and sparked new fandom in the long-running series of ape superiority over humans.

Director Rupert Wyatt will return to the helm “Dawn” with Contagion screenwriter Scott Z. Burns penning the sequel we know nothing except that Serkis will return as Caesar. Given how the ending of “Rise” found a virus making its way around the world, who can tell where the sequel will take place, let alone when. 

Shifting over to the Disney/Marvel camp, news has steadily been breaking on Thor 2, such as the casting of Mads Mikkelsen (Casino Royale) as a villain. Now we have news that we can expect a return to Asgard a little sooner than anticipated: November 8, 2013. Okay, so it’s only a week before the previous release date, but we’ll take it.

The sequel will be helmed by Alan Taylor (Game of Thrones) and see Chris Hemsworth return to the titular role while Tom Hiddleston back as his half-brother/nemesis Loki. Little else is known about the sequel other than Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) is expected to return and that Marvel Studio President Kevin Feige promises that we will see more of the other worlds that make up Norse mythology.

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