NY Times, Others Break ‘Spider-Man’ Embargo With Scathing Reviews

Injury-plagued, oft-delayed $65 million musical's producers blast critics for “pile-on”

The New York Times and nearly a dozen other publications broke the not-so-sacred review embargo on "Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark," the injury-plagued, oft-delayed, $65 million Bono-backed Broadway musical on Tuesday — publishing reviews that were not exactly glowing well before the show's official opening night.

According to the Times, the paper — along with its rivals — decided to publish its review now because the thrice-delayed opening night is, for the moment, slated for March 15, and that the show, which began previews on Nov. 28, "has been running long enough before paying audiences for judgment to be rendered."

The Times, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, New York Post, Daily News, Washington Post, Hollywood Reporter and Variety were among those breaking the embargo on Tuesday.

The show's producers, including Julie Taymor, Bono and the Edge, are not exactly thrilled with the critics' collective decision.

“This pile-on by the critics is a huge disappointment,” Rick Miramontez, a spokesman for the production, said in a statement. “Changes are still being made and any review that runs before the show is frozen is totally invalid.”

In a seriously scathing review, New York Times chief theater critic Ben Brantley called the show "not only the most expensive; it may also rank among the worst."

Brantley wrote:

The sheer ineptitude of this show, inspired by the Spider-Man comic books, loses its shock value early. After 15 or 20 minutes, the central question you keep asking yourself is likely to change from 'How can $65 million look so cheap?' to 'How long before I’m out of here?'

The only redeeming part of the show, he said, came during a technical glitch-forced delay, when one of the actors warned "Spider-Man" that he'd heard "they dropped a few of them."