“Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark” — the record $65 million Broadway musical that’s been eviscerated by critics — has had its opening night delayed five times by its producers, including Bono and the Edge. And it appears the current opening night, slated for March 15, will be pushed back, too.
On Monday — a day after its 98th preview performance, another record — the New York Times reported that “Spider-Man’s” producers are now in “negotiations” with director Julie Taymor “for her to work with a newly expanded creative team to fix” the musical, or leave the show entirely.
When contacted by TheWrap, a spokesman for “Spider-Man” said, "The production will not comment on this speculation." (Which, in effect, only leaves us to speculate more!)
Last week, injury-plagued show was slapped with three workplace safety violations from the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration, after four of the musical's cast members were hurt performing stunt work during rehearsals or previews.
Last month, the Times and nearly a dozen other publications (the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, New York Post, Daily News, Washington Post, Hollywood Reporter and Variety among them) broke the not-so-sacred review embargo on the show, publishing scathing reviews, led by the Times chief theater critic Ben Brantley, who called the show "not only the most expensive; it may also rank among the worst."
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 producers called it was a critical “pile-on,” arguing that “changes are still being made” and that “any review that runs before the show is frozen is totally invalid.”
The problem is, “Turn Off the Dark” may never turn on. (One theater reviewer I spoke with, however, dismissed that notion, saying "Spider-Man" will open "eventually.")
In the end, it may not matter. Despite all of its problems, "Spider-Man" has remained one of Broadway's top grossing musicals. The show has been generating more than $1 million in ticket sales per week — or slightly more than the reported $1 million cost per week of producing it.