Taymor ankles; team regroups for summer bow
Producers of “Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark” have at last confirmed the departure of helmer Julie Taymor from the day-to-day running of the Broadway megamusical, bringing on scribe Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and director Philip William McKinley to revise the production.
Opening night has officially been moved from Tuesday to the inexact timeframe of “early summer.”
Although a multiweek shutdown of perfs has been widely anticipated, the announcement from producers Michael Cohl and Jeremiah J. Harris made no mention of such a plan, and some sources indicated that such a stoppage is no longer in the cards.
It remains unclear how the new additions to the creative team will be credited, nor how Taymor’s attachment to the production will be acknowledged going forward. One of the progenitors of “Spider-Man” along with songwriters Bono and the Edge, Taymor was previously credited as director, co-book writer (with Glen Berger) and mask designer.
A number of people in the industry expected that the director might eventually step aside given Taymor’s exacting control of her creative work. Any overhaul of the show will include revisions of the script, and it was never clear how open to collaboration and alterations Taymor would be.
But considering the immense technical constraints of the big-budget tuner, it’s not yet certain how much freedom Aguirre-Sacasa and McKinley will ultimately have in retooling the production. There’s also been talk of new contributions from Bono and the Edge, although any music changes also have not been confirmed.
Aguirre-Sacasa (“Big Love”) seems a logical choice to join “Spider-Man” thanks to his credits penning Marvel Comics. McKinley (“The Boy From Oz”), meanwhile, has previously staged circus productions with similarly large-scale tech demands.
“Spider-Man” has kept the industry hanging for most of the Broadway season as opening night has been repeatedly delayed and press attention has approached Charlie Sheen-level intensity. The latest scheduling pushback of the opening is only going to add further millions to the pricetag for the megabudget tuner.
Capitalization costs were estimated at $65 million late last year, but since then the delayed openings and ongoing rehearsals during performance weeks have meant increased costs in actor and stagehand overtime.
One estimate of the current budget, from an industry type affiliated with the show, puts current capitalization costs at $70 million-$72 million, with the number only going up.
Observers may be forgiven for wondering why collaborators and investors think “Spider-Man” is worth it given its sky-high running costs of about $1 million and the critical drubbing that hit the show in a slew of early reviews in February.
For one thing, “Spider-Man” has regularly posted sales of $1.2 million and above (one week coming close to $1.9 million). That suggests there’s aud appetite for the show, although it’s unclear how much that will wane when the intense media spotlight finally dies away.
Besides, there’s a lot of chatter among legiters suggesting that investors are sticking with “Spider-Man” not necessarily based on the show’s merits but as an entree to future ventures with lead producer Cohl, the music-world vet whose ultra-profitable prospects include the concert tours of U2 and Barbra Streisand.