Superhero spotted on 42nd Street.

Well, it happened.

After years of speculation and millions and millions of dollars, it finally happened.

Spider-Man opened last night on Broadway.

You’re probably thinking I got that last sentence wrong.  That I should have said Spider-Man started previews last night.

But with the amount of ink from new and old media the show got last night and this morning, you might as well call it opened.

The chat boards lit up during the show last night (I bet all of the sites saw a surge in traffic), as did Twitter and the blogosphere.  The traditional media caught up this morning, with Spidey snagging the front page of the NY Post (right out of one of those scenes from a super hero movie where the papers hit the streets with a headline that screams, “Spider-Man saves the day!”) as well articles in the NY Times, The Journal, and many, many others.

And while the big publications aren’t reviewing the show, because they “can’t”, they are letting audience members do it for them, with quotes like “parts of it were really exciting” and “the story-telling is really unclear.”

Fair?  Unfair?

As a Producer, I might be frustrated with any negative coverage judging a first preview before my cake was fully cooked.  But when you build the biggest baked good in the world, you gotta expect it.

And hey – you can always take solace in the fact that what these publications are doing, without knowing it, is putting another nail in their own reviewers’ coffins.  By putting so much attention on the show up front, many audience members will have made up their minds by the time the reviews come out.  (When My First Time had a feature article in the NY Times, I sold soooo many more tickets than I sold when the review came out – and a bunch of people called me and congratulated me on the “review”.)

But I will say this to the press, and to all the chatters out there that have been sharpening their claws for the past several weeks . . . write what you will.  But remember, what they are doing down there is unprecedented.  They are building the musical version of the Great Wall of China.  (Which, by the way, I’m sure had a bunch of cost overruns and was also way behind schedule).

More important that precedent, is that they are employing an awful lot of people.

We should all be pulling for their success.  Explorers of uncharted territory may not always find what they are looking for (remember what Columbus was looking for), and many die in the process, but they always stumble upon something which provides new opportunities for all the rest of us.

Stay the course, Spidey.  Some of us are rooting for ya.

Now the big question is . . . will they be publishing their grosses???

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.

Ken Davenport
Ken Davenport

Tony Award-Winning Broadway Producer

I'm on a mission to help 5000 shows get produced by 2025.

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