Harvard on Spider-Man.

Say what you want about the 80 million dollar super-spider that is about to enter its 3rd year on 42nd Street, but one thing is for sure . . . that Spider got some serious press.

Part of my business mission is to get Broadway and the Theater “off the arts pages” and into the mainstream news.  And well, Spider-Man got some much non-theater-section coverage (some good, some not so good), you’d think his name was Spiderkardashian.

The coolest article I’ve read about it lately is from that fancy business journal, the Harvard Business Review, which did a simple but serious bullet point analysis of how lead Producers Michael Cohl and Jeremiah Harris made it through the sh*t storm of the first twelve months of Spidey’s life.

There will be books written about Spider-Man, and how they,  Michael and Jeremiah, turned their potential Titanic around (there’s a documentary in the works, I hear, as well – but it’s held up with all the Taymor litigation).

But until the books are published, there are articles like this one.


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  • Mary says:

    Very good article and I read the reader comments. One reader brought up the fact that it has the highest production costs per week and it had not made any money yet. This is often the way movies are reported in terms of weekly gross. However huge box office gross – colossal production cost (underreported) = no revenue. I guess for me the question is — are you making a profit–doesn’t have to be extreme but is it sustainable? Comic book heroes are also huge in terms of their appeal across multiple industries, films, book, theater, television. That helps.

  • Heather says:

    Nice article, but it misses the point. Mom and Dad spend a lot of money taking the whole family to NYC. It’s expensive. Still, Mom wants to make sure that the family sees a Broadway show while they’re in town. The only show they can ALL agree to is Spiderman (Dad doesn’t want to be difficult, but he and Junior are in agreement- they could care less about Broadway). It’s Broadway (sort of), but it is palatable to those who don’t want to give Bway a chance. Nothing wrong with it, but until we see numbers that show a “repeat buyer” effect or a conversion- I’m not impressed on an industry level. And let’s be honest – they will never recoup.

  • Rich says:

    Given this article was from HBR, I’m surprised at the lack of attention the authors paid to the prospects of Spidey actually recouping.
    My calculations(significantly aided by NYT article:
    http://economix.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/12/14/spider-man-economics-recouping-that-initial-investment/) reveal that based on gross-gross alone, at $160MM to date Spidey is less than half-way to recouping investors’ capital. Of course, this estimate contains numerous imbedded assumptions which may need to be tweaked, and the calculations do not include merchandising revenue. All the more reason HBR should have provided a real analysis.

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