Producers of Broadway musical “Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark” have filed a motion to dismiss the copyright infringement claims of Julie Taymor, the legit creative currently embroiled in a legal tussle with the “Spider-Man” team.
In a separate filing, Taymor moved to dismiss producers’ counterclaims of breach of contract and breach of fudiciary duties.
The producers’ motion aims to nix Taymor’s claim that the tuner, in its current incarnation, draws heavily on Taymor’s original treatment for the show.
Attorneys for the producers have corraled a detailed, fanboy-worthy array of evidence drawn from “Spider-Man” back issues and the 2002 film version, in an effort to prove that what Taymor identifies as her contributions to the final version are in fact largely inspired by pre-existing elements of the Spidey mythos.
The back-and-forth is the latest in the legal wrangling between the producers of “Spider-Man,” led by 8 Legged Prods., and Taymor, the prominent legit and film helmer who was a primary creative force on “Spider-Man” until she was fired from the show last year during the production’s tumultous run-up to opening.
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Earlier this month, Taymor filed court papers — including revealing e-mail exchanges among the “Spider-Man” team — accusing the producers of trying to defame her character and ruin her professional rep.
The outstanding claim of copyright infringement is one of the few left open between the two sides, following a February settlement that resolved the suit Taymor filed through the legit helmer’s union, the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society, regarding unpaid directing royalties.
Producers aim to get the copyright suit dismissed on the grounds that none of the key elements of the show’s final story — including characters, plot, settings and theme — are substantially similar to Taymor’s three-page summary of her early conception of the show.
As Taymor’s side points out, producers filed to dismiss only Taymor’s copyright claim based on the treatment she wrote in 2004 — not her copyright claim based on the original book of the musical, co-written with Glen Berger.
In that treatment, Taymor imagined a dark, sexually-charged story in which villainous spider-goddess Arachne attempted to mate with Peter Parker and then eat him. One climactic plot twist would have seen Peter bite paramour Mary Jane Watson, turning her into a spider-woman.
Backing up the producers’ motion is a slew of evidence offered as proof that major chunks of the show were drawn from Spider-Man’s origin story, well-known from comicbooks and movies. In addition, a Marvel Comics version of Arachne, the “Turn Off the Dark” character most associated with Taymor (and playing a greatly reduced role in the tuner’s current incarnation), is traced back to earlier comicbook appearances.
Producers’ attorneys also cited a slew of prior copyright infringement cases whose rulings, they argue, back up the motion to dismiss.
Taymor, meanwhile, aims to dismiss the producers’ countersuit against her on contractual grounds.
Should the motions to dismiss be denied, there’s speculation the sides will work toward a settlement to avoid further public mudslinging.