Fox announced today that the sequel to the hugely popular first X-Men film will be released on May 2, 2003, not in the winter of 2002 as had been rumored.  Principal photography will begin in May of 2002 with the director and cast of original hit film all returning to reprise their roles in the sequel, which will be entitled, X -- Squared.  Instead of three major Marvel-based theatrical films in 2002, there will be just two (at least as far as we know now) -- the Spider-Man film, which opens May 3 and Blade 2 is now set to debut on March 29.  In 2003 the second X-Men film will share the screen with Ang Lee's The Incredible Hulk film (see 'Crouching Behemoth, Hidden Hero'), as well as with numerous other 'genre' delights including The Matrix Reloaded and Terminator 3.  Numerous other films featuring Marvel characters are in varying states of development, but do not have release dates yet, though it is likely that at least one other 'Marvel' film will be released in 2003, or possibly even late 2002.


Speaking to Variety, X-Men helmer Bryan Singer noted, 'We wanted to build on X-Men's summer success.  We decided that (May 2) would be the best place to kick off a summer that has other sci-fi/fantasy fare.   The early summer (late spring) opening date has proven to be very successful for Universal's Mummy films, and observers believe that it will also be kind to Sony/Columbia's Spider-Man film.  By announcing the X-Men sequel's opening date this early Fox has put a claim on the early May opening for 2003.  Previous films in that spot like The Mummy Returns have benefited both from the audience's pent-up demand for summer-type movie fare and from a distinct lack of competition from other major releases, though with summer film schedules becoming ever more crowded there is no guarantee that the X-Men sequel will have a clear field when it opens in 2003.