Why I want the press to shut up about Spider-Man.

There’s an article in today’s Wall Street Journal in which I, and several more of my Broadway Producer peers are quoted about the attention that Spider-Man is getting.

The crux of the complaints are focused on the fact that since everyone in the press corps (and the public) seems to have been infected with Spideritis, no other shows are getting any ink.

But that’s not why I’m sick of it.

Yes, I am getting a bit bored by article after article about the injuries, and who is really in charge, and what the cast had for breakfast the day they found out Julie Taymor was out.

But the real reason I’m over it is that many members of the press (not all, mind you) and the public are constantly calling for Producers to risk more on Broadway . . . to push the boundaries of what Broadway is about . . . to stop thinking about budgets and pursue excellence, instead of just excellent economics.

Has anyone actually realized what just went down on 42nd St?

The Producers of a $70+ million dollar musical that has been plagued with issues since its inception, but has been grossing 1 million plus per week just said, “We’re shutting the show down, because we think we can make it better.”

Yes, that’s right, they are grossing 1.X a week already . . . maybe not making money every week, but certainly breaking even . . . and that’s not enough.  Many Producers would have thrown in the towel by now . . . twice.  But no, these guys fire the most important person on the team and put more chips on the table to see if they shape this sucker up.  I mean that takes a giant set of these.

Oh, and by the way, the critics have already written their reviews, so it’s not like they are trying to pretty their girl up before the big ball. They’ve had their opening, whether they like it or not, and they’re still assuming great expense to try and make a better experience for their audience.

Yes, they are obviously trying to improve the show in order to protect their mammoth investment, and yes, they’ve made mistakes that got them to this point that maybe you wouldn’t have made.

But I ask you, as well as the press, and everyone else out there . . . what would you have done if you found yourself where they were one week ago?  And don’t cheap out and say you never would have gotten in the same place as they did.  Just pretend you did.  Now what would you do?

Whether you like the show or not, and whether you agree with all the decisions they’ve made or not, you have to at least admire the Producers for not jumping ship, and continuing to try and better their show for the sake of their investors, and more importantly for the audience.

That’s a risk that I don’t think many people would take.

And in an industry that is getting more and more risk averse thanks to the escalating economic challenges, you gotta give ’em a little props, don’t you . . . even if what they’re doing makes your head spin like this.


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  • Cam says:

    Well, people usually ask for something different and change and all, but when it comes they don’t see it. It’s like when artists like Cézanne started deconstructing the Renaissance space and people/critics started saying they were crazy and all, but now that we have the hiatus necessary, we can comprehend and accept it (their work). Producers need to understand that and I believe many do, they are avant-garde and it sure takes balls to do it, especially in Spider-Mans case, because they already were a franchise of something massive and people had expectations and they had spend way too much money on it.
    I think in their place, I would have done the same. And I appreciate what they’ve done for the history of Broadway. And the attention they are getting on the newspaper is not their fault, so I think the other producers should be a little more respectful about it. The media loves scandals and fight and injuries and controversy, it sells. That’s why they asked for the producer’s opinion in that article, ’cause they want to create a fight. Instead of fighting the Spider Man producers, we should all gather and fight for our space in the media.
    Also, everything you said about the critics formulating their opinion before the show shapes itself is very interesting and it tells us where the public opinion get’s it’s ideas and discussions. People don’t even stop to think themselves about the problem, they just take what somebody – that apparently knows more then them about the said subject – says and use it as the TRUTH, the one and only. I just think that it’s very naïve to just base your whole opinion on a review from a newspaper about a show that hasn’t even opened yet. And again BRAVO to the Spider Man producers for trying to improve the show, even though it might mean they’ll lose momentum by delaying the opening. And also to you for taking the time to write this.

  • Levi Walker says:

    Amen! GO SPIDEY! I mean – you MUST be a curmudgeon to KNOW how and what it takes to produce a show on The Great White Way and not CHEER these guys on for wanting their product to be GREAT!

  • Cynthia says:

    Ken, I never thought it of it like this, but I think you are correct. Thank you for posting this, it’s made me see things in different light. Dare I say it? From the Producer’s perspective. A great post.

  • Amyleigh1982 says:

    Bonus to them for selling tickets to rehearsals (known as PREVIEWS) over a 6-month time frame. That’s how you break even!

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