Spider-Man will return to action when Sony Pictures releases the fourth instalment in Marvel Studios' global franchise on May 6 2011.

Announcing a revised set of release dates, Marvel Studios revealed that a character-based picture from its stable will launch in theatres each year from 2010-12.

Marvel Studios chairman David Maisel said the strategy 'maximises the visibility of our single character-focused films, leading to the highly anticipated release of the multi-character The Avengers film in 2012.'

Iron Man 2 holds on to its May 7 2010 slot while Thor, The First Avenger: Captain America and The Avengers are each shunted back one year.

2011 is looking to be a packed summer for Marvel Studios when three titles go out. Aside from Spider-Man 4 there is Thor, which will be directed by Kenneth Branagh and will now debut on June 17 2011 and not July 16 2010 as originally planned, while The First Avenger: Captain America is moved back from May 6 2011 to make way for Spider-Man 4 and will open on July 22 2011.

The jewel in the crown - or so Marvel hopes -- is the multi-character project The Avengers, which will now open on May 4 2012 and not July 15 2011 as originally set. The picture will place several key characters front and centre of the story, abandoning the subtler cross-pollination of storylines already seen or hinted at in Iron Man and The Incredible Hulk.