Producers insist money issues won't derail show
Should Broadway’s Spidey sense be tingling?Rumors have spread among legiters that the production sked for incoming mega-musical “Spider-Man, Turn Off the Dark” may be threatened. The extensive work being done to prep for the technically demanding show, both in the shop constructing the physical production and in the theater where “Spider-Man” is due to bow, is said to have stopped this week. The halt is attributed to cash flow obstacles that producers — including David Garfinkle, Martin McCallum, Marvel Entertainment and Sony Pictures Entertainment — are working to resolve, according to some in the industry affiliated with the show. One explanation suggests the delay stems not from problems in raising the massive funds required for the tuner — said to be capitalized at north of $35 million — but from issues in mobilizing those great big chunks of coin. A rep for the show would say only that the production remains on track to begin previews at the Hilton Theater Feb. 25, with an opening to follow some time in March. Others attached to “Spider-Man” acknowledge the funding hiccup but believe the situation will be resolved without forcing a disruption of the musical’s launch. Nevertheless, the chatter has served as an alarming suggestion of instability in a production generally expected to become the sales juggernaut of the 2009-10 season. Current work stoppage also comes hot on the heels of a Marvel earnings report earlier this week that saw the company post a 38% drop in profits on a 26% reduction in revenue during the second quarter, a slide prompted largely by the lack of a major movie release since “Iron Man” and “The Incredible Hulk” last year. (Still, Marvel logged a profit of $29 million on revenue of $116 million.) Most legiters anticipate the musical, with music by Bono and the Edge of U2 and helmed by Julie Taymor (“The Lion King”), will rake in monster amounts of cash right out of the gate. Even if reviews and word of mouth prove dire, hype and curiosity are expected to drive ticket sales for a solid stretch of time. The season’s Rialto cume would surely suffer without that sales spike, thereby hindering Broadway’s ability to keep pace with the record-setting grosses posted for the 2008-09 season. For now, “Spider-Man,” with a cast that so far features Evan Rachel Wood as Mary Jane Watson and Alan Cumming as the Green Goblin, remains officially set to swing into previews in February.
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