Schadenfreude for Spider-Man?

Rumors started on the street last week that Spidey was in trouble when the multi-million dollar renovation of the Hilton theater was halted.  It was called a “cash-flow problem”, which is corporate for, “we’re not putting up another cent.”

These rumors and even the postponement didn’t come as too much of a shock to me, or to anyone that’s been following the story.  The dramatic suspension of the work even seemed right on target with the Titanic analogy I used in this post.  That pic was plagued with delays and cost overruns.  It makes sense.  Whenever you’re building a product that is three times the size of the norm, you’re bound to run into problems.  Imagine if suddenly someone tried to build a skyscraper three times the biggest skyscraper out there.  Or three times the biggest cruise ship.  Two things are for certain: you’re gonna get press, and you’re gonna have problems.

Yesterday, everyone’s favorite NY Post columnist, Michael “You-Can-Hate-Me-But-I’m-Usually-Right” Riedel was the first to report that the unprecedented production was officially canceled.

So what happened?  Well, here’s my guess . . .

But wait!  In true super-hero fashion, here comes Hello Entertainment to save the day!  Look at this quote that the Producers just gave to MTV, according to BroadwayWorld:

Hello Entertainment is aware of the speculation about the future of Spider-Man on Broadway and is re-confirming that the plan is to resume production shortly and preview on February 25, 2010 at the Hilton Theatre when cash flow issues have been resolved.

So it’s on again?

Hmmm.  Well, ok.  I’m going to try to be optimistic.  I’m going to try, because:

  • There are a LOT of jobs at stake here:  actors, stagehands, box office personnel, etc. and no one needs another few hundred people out of work right now.
  • I think Spider-Man was the only shot we had to breaking a billion bucks this season.  If it goes bye-bye, we just lost what would have been a big big grosser (for a little while, at least).
  • Spider-Man had the potential to bring in new audiences to Broadway

I’m going to try to be optimistic.  I’m going to try.  I’m going to . . .

. . . but I have to wonder . . .

If you were the Producer of Spider-Man and a major publication announced that you were canceling the production, would you make an announcement of your own that the article was BS . . .  to MTV?

Oh, and also, what does it mean if I met a movie producer at a cocktail party tonight and she said that she offered a role in a new movie to Evan Rachel Wood last week and was told she was unavailable.

And then this week she got a call from her agent saying that she may have an opening in her schedule after all.

I’m going to try and be optimistic. I’m going to try.

Because no matter how easy it may be to say, “I told you so,” Spider-Man not happening isn’t good for anybody.

Maybe one idea for the execs at Marvel is to seek the James Cameron-Titanic deal from their creatives.  That’s one way to find out just who is really committed to making this show happen.

I know that if I were one the spiders spinning this web, I’d put my Producer fees and royalties on the pass line just for a chance to roll these super-hero sized dice.

Comments
  • anonymous says:

    Word on the street is that the PSM (production stage manager) for the show has info that everything is dead in the water and has taken another PSM job in Las Vegas

  • Dan Mason says:

    Ken- In your opinion, who is ultimately to blame for the show’s collapse? I saw one report that suggested Taymor’s special effects were going to push the show’s weekly expense to around $900,000. If that’s the case, then she was clearly out of her mind. But wouldn’t someone at HELLO have the foresight to check a budget and run numbers before the money was spent?
    I do not work in the theater, but it seems like a pretty simple equation. You can’t spend more money than you can bring in. Producing “Spider-Man” on Broadway isn’t like producing the movie. You don’t have 3,000 screens showing your product 6 times a day. Even the biggest blockbusters in New York have a finite number of tickets to sell each week. So in that regard, a good producer should already go into a production knowing what the maximum revenue opportunity is each week. I would think it’s easy to work back from there. How could they be asleep at the wheel with $45 million at stake??
    I agree that the demise of Spiderman on Broadway is bad for the theater community. It’s one of the shows that could bring a new audience to the arts. Kids, comic book geeks, U2 fans, etc.

  • If I were in charge of Spider-man, I’d double cast it like they did for Grinch and run 12-15 shows a week. It would raise my expenses, but for a spectacle show I’d also want every possible opportunity for tourists to come and take advantage of it.

  • Even with Julie T. (unless that rumor has proven unfounded, too) helming the show, it seems ill-conceived.
    Just when we thought it was safe to go to a Broadway musical, here’s another one based on a film–far superior to most that have been Bowdlerized recently–in hopes of “bringing in a ‘new audience….'”
    All of these supposed trend-setters (“Rent,” “Spring Awakening,”) have turned out to be sui generis, and there has been no influx of teens or 20-somethings all clamoring to see any other productions, cast in a more traditional mold.
    By the way, Chameleon Theatre Co., Ltd. is presenting a benefit concert performance of “Play the Music Softly,” on August 31st at 7:30 at OPIA, 130 East 57th Street, Second Floor, near Lexington Avenue.
    While not exactly groundbreaking, it does offer a plot that should appeal to everyone, and some well-crafted songs, along with a very talented cast.
    Producers, agents and managers are invited. RSVP: lwielkotz@yahoo.com

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Ken Davenport
Ken Davenport

Tony Award-Winning Broadway Producer

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