What will happen to Broadway if Spider-Man is a hit?

When the work started back up at the Hilton Theater recently, it felt like that moment in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory when, after years of silence, smoke started coming out of the chimneys.  “The Oompa-Loompas are back to work!  They’re making chocolate again!”

Well, unfortunately for the Producers of Spider-Man, they don’t have Oompa-Loompas to do their pre-production.  Their labor costs a lot more than a free room and all the chocolate you can eat.

There’s a lot of mystery surrounding what’s going on in that theater.  Everyone’s waiting to see what will happen on opening night.

Me?  I’m more interested in what happens after opening night.

Spider-Man is the biggest show that Broadway has ever seen.  I’ve compared it to the movie version of Titanic and Avatar before, as it has the potential to create that kind of tsunami-like splash.

But what happens in the aftermath?

First, let me state how much I’m fantasizing about Spidey-success.  That same post I linked to above talks about the potential it has to bring new audiences to the theater, to bring more rock-star composers to the theater, and to re-energize our market by giving us one of the most unique events we’ve ever seen.

It could be a game-changer.

It could also drive up capitalizations and costs quicker than Clark Kent can change into Superman.

We’re an industry that swings for the fences.

And regardless of how out-of-whack some of our labor rules may be, or or royalty pools, or GM fees, and so on . . . when you get a hit, none of it is out of whack.

And that’s why the fees are so high.  The unions, vendors, and so on, keep the rates at high levels to make sure that they have what one Producer I know calls “Bonanza Insurance.”

I call it Phantom Insurance.

And those rates and fees will always stay high, as long as there is one show that defies the odds and mints money like the Oompa-Loompas mint . . . uh . . . mints.

So, if Spider-Man sets a new bar . . . will the unions and creatives and Producers have to set a new one as well?

Me? I’d rather have a whole slew of hits than just one super-sized hit.  So when you hear, “If Spider-Man can do it, ” even if it comes out of your own mouth, make sure whatever you’re discussing makes sense (and ‘cents’) for your show.

Because Broadway musical budgets 50 years ago were less than a million bucks.

Now the average is getting closer to 15 million.  That’s an increase of 1500%. And inflation has increased.

What will the average be in 2060?

The next play in the reading series is . . .

We’re halfway through the first year of the Davenport Developmental Reading Series, and we’ve had two great dramas so far.

So what do you do after you’ve been through the Civil War and a violent psychological thriller?

You play Bingo!

Next up on September 13th is a new comedy from the midwest’s Ian Kennedy about that famed form of legalized church gambling known as Bingo (not to be confused with the Off-Broadway musical of the same name from several years ago).

Now I’ll admit . . . I got semi-obsessed with bingo on a cruise several years back. It rained 5 out of the 7 days, so Bingo was about all that we could do (except watch the movie version of Titanic which they played in the lounge – no lie – they played Titanic – on a cruise ship).

Here’s what this Bingo is about . . .

“There is nothing fiercer than a game of Bingo. Tensions are high and competition FIERCE. In Mr. Kennedy’s new play BINGO!, amidst the competition, gossip flourishes and secrets are revealed. Who knew a Bingo game could contain hidden sexualities, illicit affairs, matching heart-shaped tattoos, AND good luck dollies?”

I even hear there is a touch o’ interactivity involved.

Sounds fun to me.  I’ll be there.  Will you?

For more about the reading series, including how to submit, click here or visit www.DavenportTheatrical.com.

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.

SIGN UP BELOW TO NEVER MISS A BLOG

X