Disney to Distribute ‘Iron Man 3,’ ‘Avengers’; Sets Release Dates (Updated)

Paramount paid at least $115M to transfer distribution rights on Marvel titles to Mouse House

Walt Disney Studios and Marvel have a new distribution agreement with Paramount, resolving, among other things, which studio will handle worldwide distribution for the much-anticipated "Iron Man 3."

Under the new deal, announced Monday, Disney will pay Paramount at least $115 million to acquire the worldwide distribution rights to the Marvel-produced  "Iron Man 3" and "The Avengers."

UPDATED: Disney has set a May 4, 2012 release date for "The Avengers" and a May 3, 2013 premiere date for "Iron Man 3."

The money will be paid upon theatrical release of the films and serve as a minimum guarantee against Paramount's distribution fees.

According to an executive close to Paramount, the studio negotiated a higher-than-average distribution fee of 8-9 percent for both "Iron Man 3" and "The Avengers."

That means if the two movies combine to gross more than $1.4 billion theatrically worldwide, Paramount could recoup more than $115 million.

In addition, Paramount will retain worldwide distribution rights to the Marvel-produced "Thor" and "Captain America."

The issue as to which studio would distribute the third leg of the mega-successful "Iron Man" franchise has been open-ended since August 2009, when Disney paid $4.3 million to acquire Marvel, which is still under distribution contract with Paramount.

With the two previous "Iron Man" movies combining to gross more than $1.2 billion theatrically, it was assumed that Disney wouldn't pay so much to purchase Marvel if its crown jewel were locked onto Paramount's slate.

"We appreciate the tremendous momentum that Paramount established with these iconic Marvel characters and look forward to propelling the brand even further in coming years," said Disney chairman Rich Ross, in a statement.

Added Paramount chairman and CEO Brad Grey: "Five years ago, when Paramount and Marvel made our initial deal, both our businesses were in very different places. We are grateful for the partnership we have had with the terrific Marvel team over these years and proud of the work we have done together."

Paramount will release "Thor" and "Captain America on May 6 and July 22, respectively.