Directed by Julie Taymor, who wrote the show’s book with Glen Berger, and featuring songs by U2’s Bono and the Edge, “Spider-Man” is not only the most expensive musical ever to hit Broadway; it may also rank among the worst.
Broadway Shows That Close On Opening Night
The classic example of the Big Broadway Flop is the show that closes on opening night. How can this even happen? Well, it usually starts with really bad buzz during previews. If it looks like the Broadway show is not going to get any better during the previews period, and the word-of-mouth continues to be terrible, the show's producers may start (secretly) considering the possibility of closing the show if the reviews aren't positive. The show has its Broadway opening night, later that night the reviews are abysmal, and the producers come to the conclusion that the combination of bad buzz and bad reviews is going to equal low ticket sales. Knowing that they're destined to lose money with every ensuing performance, they go ahead and announce the day after opening that the previous night's performance was the show's last. Hence, the show closed on opening night. This fate doesn't befall many Broadway shows - it only seems to happen once every several years. Recent Broadway flop shows that closed on opening night include Moose Murders in 1983, The Oldest Living Conferederate Widow Tells All in 2003, and Glory Days in '08.
I think Julie Taymor is to blame here
Who makes a Broadway show that has basically no chance of making money? What s the point?
The Zero Dollar Spider-Man Musical Will Open the Day Before the $65 Million One
2/22/11 at 2:15 PM
Published: March 7, 2011
The producers of Broadway’s “Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark” were negotiating on Monday with their director, Julie Taymor, for her to work with a newly expanded creative team to fix the critically derided, $65 million musical or possibly leave the show, according to people who work on “Spider-Man” or have been briefed on the negotiations.
The artistic direction under consideration for “Spider-Man” — twice as expensive as any show in Broadway history — involves more decisions than just Ms. Taymor’s future, according to these people, who spoke anonymously because the producers have insisted that no information be disclosed about the talks.
The producers and Ms. Taymor and her co-creators, Bono and the Edge of U2, are also discussing how extensively to overhaul the script and music; how many outside consultants should be hired, and who; and when to open the show, which set a record at its Sunday matinee for the most preview performances ever, its 98th. (The previous record was set in 1969 by Jackie Mason’s “A Teaspoon Every Four Hours.”)
Does anyone of you feel compelled to see this $65 million dollar train wreck?
A lead producer of “Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark” has told at least two investors and one other person involved with the Broadway musical that its director, Julie Taymor, will step aside once negotiations about complex contractual matters like her creative legal rights and her considerable financial stake in any profits are concluded, according to the investors and a person in a senior position within the show’s management.
All three people, who spoke anonymously because the producer, Michael Cohl, has asked that information remain private, said that he had told Ms. Taymor that she had to step aside so the producers could bring in a new team to overhaul the $65 million production
After months of accidents, ballooning costs, terrible reviews, and gleeful public rubbernecking, Julie Taymor is officially out as the director of the beleaguered Broadway musical, Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark.
Last month, when critics collectively descended upon the show (which was then, as now, still in previews), I noted how the story of Spider-Man had really become a story about Taymor, who was being depicted as character in a Greek tragedy of her own making. The director and co-book writer also earned comparisons to Arachne, Spider-Man's ancient, eight-legged antagonist. (Vulture's Scott Brown described the show as being "about an artist locked in a death grapple with her subject, a tumultuous relationship between a talented, tormented older woman and a callow young stud.")
Now that Taymor's been booted, writers are coming up with a whole new set of similes for her condition. On the New Yorker's Web site, Michael Schulman is "reminded of the late stages of Hillary Clinton's 2008 Presidential campaign, when it was clear to everybody in the world but Clinton that the numbers weren't going to add up."
Ultimately, Taymor was blinded by her own strengths: persistence, passion, and unforgiving originality. Let's hope that she can ride those qualities, as Hillary Clinton did, to something new and big ...
In the New York Times, Taymor's friend Jeffrey Horowitz, artistic director of New York's Theater for a New Audience, uses a maternal metaphor:
Julie's an extremely sensitive person, and she has always felt like a mother to her plays, a mother to her characters ... This is like a mother being taken away from her family. She loves that family. She wants that family.
The Associated Press, meanwhile, seems to quote a comparison of Taymor's own fashioning, from her TED talk last week:
"I'm in The Crucible right now," she said, referring to the Arthur Miller play about the Salem witch trials. "It's trial by fire."
That last metaphor is so juicy, so resonant—a woman being persecuted by an angry mob!—but it may actually be too good to be true: When the New York Times' ArtsBeat blogprinted the same quote, it made it sound like Taymor was just referring to a generic crucible. She also compared the eight-year experience of developing Spider-Man to scaling twin volcanoes, which she once did in Indonesia—a useful reminder that, regardless of her current situation, Julie Taymor is a badass.
The New York Post's Michael Riedel reports that Bono is going to be stepping up as the show's creative honcho. Along with a new creative team—including director Philip William McKinley and playwright and Spider-Man comics scribe Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa—he plans to "rip the show apart from top to bottom," says a source.
I'm dubious about this overhaul. Perhaps the new team will manage to completely revamp the show. More likely, they'll produce a slightly more coherent mess. Will theatergoers really prefer that to Taymor's glorious trainwreck?
The director Julie Taymor, a key creator of the Broadway musical “Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark,” sued the producers of that $75 million show in federal court on Tuesday, claiming that they were profiting from her creative contributions without compensating her. The lawsuit seeks at least $1 million from the producers, as well as future royalty payments.
Ms. Taymor, the Tony Award-winning director of “The Lion King” and other musicals and films, has been wrangling with the producers over money and artistic credit ever since they fired her as the director of “Spider-Man” in March. The dismissal shocked Ms. Taymor, her associates and friends said in the spring, adding that she was especially galled that the producers continued to use much of her staging and script contributions, even after a much-ballyhooed overhaul of the musical in April and May. Ms. Taymor’s union has already been pursuing an arbitration claim against the “Spider-Man” producers, Michael Cohl and Jeremiah J. Harris, claiming she is owed more than $500,000, but that arbitration proceeding has become protracted.
The lawsuit claims that the producers continued to use about 25 percent of her original script contributions in the musical, but that she is not being paid royalties for that work. Charles T. Spada, a lawyer representing Ms. Taymor, said in a statement on Tuesday that the “Spider-Man” producers had violated Ms. Taymor’s creative rights on the show, which she developed over seven years with the show’s composers, Bono and the Edge, of U2.