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Legal Settlement Frees Up ‘Spider-Man’ to Spread Web

Julie Taymor, 'Spider-Man' producers at last ink the deal that ends the tangle of lawsuits

Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark” — coming soon to an arena near you?

The legal settlement reached April 10 between Julie Taymor and producers of Broadway tuner “Spider-Man” not only ends months of drawn-out legal wrangling it also clears the way for the show to make a real stab at profitability, by freeing the producers to expand the title to cities in the U.S. (including Vegas), Europe or Asia.

Terms of the settlement weren’t disclosed, although it’s said helmer-designer Taymor came out just fine in the deal, and could make plenty of money should the show start ringing in coin from a web of satellite productions.

The Broadway version won’t make it into the black anytime soon, even though the superhero musical bested a critical drubbing to become one of the Street’s consistent big sellers, regularly posting weekly sales of more than $1 million. But with the big-budget, technologically complicated tuner ringing in weekly running costs of more than $1 million, even last week’s tally of $1.4 million wouldn’t have netted much for the coffers.

That’s why the expansion and exploitation of the property is of prime importance. The legal settlement greases the wheels on deals for future versions of the show beyond Broadway, where the limited auditorium size and high labor costs combine to hobble profit potential.

In theory, the Rialto production could now act as a brand-establishing flagship for a show that, like any global Main Stem hit, makes its really big money from stagings around the world.

Taymor, whose messy departure from the production garnered plenty of publicity in 2011, had claimed in her lawsuit that enough of her original creative work remained in the retooled version to constitute copyright infringement. Producers countersued for breach of contract.

True to the pattern established by the musical’s extended, rocky stretch of preview performances,  hammering out the final settlement also went way past deadline. The deal was initially done in August, with the final details taking the last seven months to come to fruition. Earlier this year a judge had even threatened the drag the two sides into court, setting a date for May 27.

None of the participants in the case would comment on the settlement beyond brief statements they issued when the news broke. Even these seemed focused on the potential for future productions around the world — and the money those incarnations could bring in.

“I’m pleased to have reached an agreement and hope for the continued success of ‘Spider-Man,’ both on Broadway and beyond,” Taymor said.

“We’re happy to put all this behind us,” echoed Michael Cohl and Jeremiah Harris of 8 Legged Prods., which produces “Spider-Man.” “We are now looking forward to spreading ‘Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark’ in new and exciting ways around the world.”

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