A Super Sized Soap Opera comes to an end.

Broadway Ball of TwineI don’t usually blog about every closing announcement that comes down the pike.  Maybe, just maybe, I’ll tweet about one every now and then.

But this isn’t just any closing announcement.

This is Spider-Man‘s closing announcement.

That’s right, citizens of Gotham.  The biggest musical Broadway has ever seen just announced that it will be closing its doors on January 4th.  Don’t worry about our web-slingin’ superhero though, according to this article in The Times, he’ll be swinging soon enough in Vegas and Germany! (They love “The Hof” so why not Spidey?)

I would worry about the investors, who are starting to speak up about losses that could equal $60mm.

Yikes.  What did lead producer, Michael Cohl, say about the SuperShow’s untimely demise?

Well, in continuing the honest leadership that earned him The Producer of The Year title two years ago, he quipped this . . .

I think the investors will eventually see something, but look, this is showbiz . . . it will be a long road and take a long time.

What went wrong?  Well, we all know the size of the budget was more suited for a James Cameron movie than a Broadway musical.  But what really went wrong was that the show just wasn’t that good.  It survived as long as it did on the ginormous hype and press that it generated from . . . well, from being so damn big in the first place (Want press?  Make the biggest of anything – skyscraper, ball of twine, musical – you’ll get press).  But eventually the word of mouth caught up to it, as it always does.  Spectacle can only get you so far.  What you need for a hit is substance.

I hope Michael continues to produce on Broadway.  He did an incredible job with what he inherited.  And besides, he’s gotta be real smart to say stuff like this . . .

The reality is that there are some new, really good, fun shows out there now, like ‘Kinky Boots.’


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  • Kerry Zukus says:

    Spiderman was always the real-life version of “Springtime for Hitler” without the funny accounting angle. In other words, it was one of the worst ideas ever for a Broadway musical. That’s almost impossible to overcome to begin with. I’m waiting for “Rocky” to do the same thing.

  • Dayna Kurnitz says:

    LOL when I met the representative from “Rocky” at Nederlander’s Educator’s expo I told her I was ambivalent and she told me they loved it in Germany and my response was “They love David Hasselhoff too.” Your comment about “The Hof” actually made me laugh so hard I spit out water!!! I took a group of students to see Spider-Man and I was getting paid. I would gladly give the money back and I would do anything to get that time back!!! It was not good.

  • Dayna Kurnitz says:

    Can I say that as an educator, and a human being, I am ashamed of my grammar in my first post.

  • Ilene Argento says:

    Holy money pit, Batman! (I mean, Spidey!)

  • Polo says:

    As someone who studied musical-theater composition for many years with Lehman Engel, I cringed when I heard Bono and the Edge were doing the score. There ARE actual rules in writing songs for the theater, and it takes time and work to learn and grow as a theater composers.

    Edge and Bono, great though they are in their own arena, it was pure folly and truly unfortunate for them, that on their very first endeavor the stakes were so impossibly high.

  • Nice that he gave your show such a great shout out! I have heard nothing but great things about Kinky Boots. Congrats!

    • Dayna Kurnitz says:

      You heard right. Kinky Boots is amazing!!! Innovative, heartwarming,a wonderful score and cast 🙂 I’ve seen it 6 times, and can’t wait to see it again.

  • Janis says:

    The lessons to be learned here are

    1. A “known” title doesn’t sell tickets
    2. Spectacle sells tickets only for a while
    3. Audiences want great stories not big flash
    4. Only great stories have great staying power

    Recycling old shows, bigger and bigger spectacle and latching on to a known title or star only sells tickets for a few shows. Lasting hits come from new stories well told. Great Broadway hits don’t need known titles or known stars.
    A great story well told is the star.

  • Fred Landau says:

    Re the comment above on success rate of pop songwriters, and I’m nor arguing quality, just compiling (I hope objectively) success rate of numbers of shows:

    It seems the track record of success for musicals is possibly no less for people who first made their reputations as pop writers than for those who made their reputations as writers of musicals.

    Here’s my compilation over the past 30 or so years. If I’ve missed any, or if I’ve categorized some incorrectly in terms of success, maybe someone will let me know.

    Caveat re the various Frank Wildhorn musicals – since he really had two huge pop hits, (his “Where Do Broken Hearts Go” was a monster-sized smash) and this is arguable as is whether they fit this category or whether the shows were successful, I can’t decide how to categorize him, pop writer first or always a theatre writer at heart. Otherwise:

    Aida – successful
    Billy Elliot – successful
    Big River – successful
    Carrie – not successful; didn’t work
    Chess – successful overseas before failing on Broadway, but the show lives on
    Dance of Vampires – successful overseas before failing on Broadway
    Drood – successful
    Footloose – successful by most people’s standards
    In My Life – didn’t work
    Kinky Boots – successful
    Legs Diamond – didn’t work
    Lestat – didn’t work
    Memphis – successful
    9 to 5 – not successful on Broadway, but many would say a nice after-life
    Spider-Man – classification based on your opinion of what its after-Broadway life will be
    Spring Awakening – successful
    Taboo – successful overseas before failing on Broadway
    Tarzan – failed in NYC seems to be successful overseas in its after-life
    The Capeman – not successful
    The Color Purple – successful, proved even bigger artistically in London
    The Lion King – successful
    Thou Shalt Not – didn’t work


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