While Chris Hemsworth is confirmed to be returning to play his titular character in Thor 2, actor and director of Thor, Kenneth Branagh has decided, despite the success of the first movie ($437 m), to opt out of the sequel. As reported in the Irish Examiner, his decision to cut his ties with the production was both 'mutual and amicable'.
According to Deadline, creators of Thor, Marvel Studios has made a full commitment to 'Thor 2', which will be released stateside by Disney on July 26, 2013.
This news will come as some surprise given Branagh's previous talk on his potential involvement with the production wherein he expressed an interest in getting back into the director's chair. At an earlier stage he described the possibility as a "lovely challenge", however it seems his concern over the opinions of the fans of the first movie which he said would have a "crucial impact" on it's success, has turned him off.
According again to Deadline, Branagh had said "You know as well as I do, there's a passionate fan base out there that will say what they think. People will vote with their feet. And because it's such a big chunk of change for everybody involved, I think that's going to have a crucial, crucial impact."
Still, as Digital Spy have noted, Branagh may still be involved in some capacity with Thor 2, possibly in a producer type role.
2013 is already shaping up as a good year for Hollywood as Thor 2 will follow on from the munch anticipated Iron Man 3, due to be released on May 3, 2013.