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We're receiving our first signals this week that the Jon Favreau Power Index has irrevocably entered "player" levels of awareness. While the global $550 million take for Iron Man says pretty much all the industry needs to know about the viability of the franchise itself, director Favreau bristled recently (and publicly to fans on Iron Man's MySpace message board) at Marvel Studios' sequel announcement — especially that troublesome part about Iron Man 2's scheduled April 30, 2010, release date. Or, as Favreau might say it these days, "Nobody asked Jon Favreau!":

It's been five weeks since the one and only phone call my reps have gotten from Marvel. I know their hands are full with The Hulk and I'm sure they will get into it shortly, as they tell me they intend to. I ran into the Marvel guys at The Hulk premiere and everyone sounded eager to get to work on IM2.

I am concerned, however, about the announced release date of April 2010. Neither Robert nor I were consulted about this and we are both concerned about how realistic the date is in light of the fact that we have no script, story or even writers hired yet. This genre of movie is best when it is done thoughtfully and with plenty of preparation. It might be better to follow the BB/DK, X/X2 three year release pattern than to scramble for a date. It is difficult because there are no Marvel 09 releases and they need product, but I also think we owe it to the fans to have a great version of IM2 and, at this point, we would have less time to make it than the first one.

Meanwhile, less-official IM2/Favreau speculation surfaced yesterday on IESB, where one fanboy claiming to be in-the-know suggested that not only is Favreau not a sure thing for Iron Man 2, but Marvel Studios chief David Maisel is haggling with the director over price — and we don't mean the Downey Jr.-facial-hair-cultivation-budget item, either:

At first I thought my source was full of shit and I dismissed it as a rumor. This last Friday I was contacted by another source at Marvel and this one, let's just say, is much higher up on the food chain, and told me that [Maisel] who has been in charge of negotiating new terms with Favreau is being cheap and not willing to pay a fair directors' fee. ...

Jon was expecting a moderate bump in his fee for the sequel but apparently Marvel has other plans. Our source continues that Maisel believes Iron Man 2 will be a success regardless of Favreau's involvement and feels the studio does not need to pay Jon a higher fee for his services.

With things looking bleak, we turned to the Magic 8-Ball of Hollywood Gossip, Nikki Finke: "Will Jon Favreau get a fair price for directing Iron Man 2, Nikki?" we asked her blog. After an hour or so of careful deliberation came the reply: "It'll be Jon's choice, believe me." Whew! A little vague, sure, but at least we know Favreau won't have to start over at the bottom of the ladder with Ant-Man or something.

[Photo Credit: WireImage]