Wednesday, August 12, 2009
By MICHAEL RIEDEL
August 12, 2009 --
SPIDER-MAN has vanquished Green Goblin, Electro, Doc Ock and Lizard.
But when it comes to the greatest supervillain of them all -- The Riedeler -- Spidey has met his match.
The $45 million "Spider-Man," directed by Julie Taymor and written by Bono and The Edge, is caught in my net, and I can report today that escape is virtually impossible.
Last week, production crews at both the Hilton Theatre and the scene shop where the show was being built were put on "hiatus" because the producers ran out of money. Assistants in the scene shop "ran to the bank to cash their checks because they weren't sure they'd clear," a source says.
Now comes word that the actors have been released from their contracts, with no incentive (i.e., money) to hang around waiting for the production to get back on track.
Meanwhile, ticket agents are desperately trying to get refunds for deposits from theater parties that booked early previews.
"I hope they don't stiff us the way Garth Drabinsky did," says one ticket agent, referring to the disgraced impresario recently sentenced in Toronto to seven years in jail.
A desperate attempt was made last week to save "Spider-Man" by bringing in a couple of veteran producers. But they're too smart to get involved in what's turning out to be the biggest fiasco in Broadway history.
And so, while the official line is "the production will begin previews on Feb. 25, 2010," the betting is that the Hilton Theatre, whose insides have been gutted for this show, is going to be an empty barn this winter.
"Spider-Man" has been in trouble from the beginning, done in by the inexperience of its producers -- Sony, Marvel Comics and David Garfinkle, a Chicago lawyer who, sources say, had almost no Broadway experience.
"He was in over his head," a source says.
Taymor, the director of "The Lion King," conceived of "Spider-Man" as an "installation show," something big and bold and full of special effects. Something, in other words, like Cirque du Soleil.
That's fine if you're going to put the damn thing up in Las Vegas, where "installation shows" run several times a day and are funded in large part by hotels and casinos.
But at $45 million -- and with a weekly running cost of almost $900,000 -- "Spider-Man" at the 1,700-seat Hilton could never be profitable.
The show would have to run five years, selling every single seat in the house, to just break even.
"That," says a source who crunched the numbers, "is insane."
Artistically, it's impossible to tell if "Spider-Man" is any good.
The designs for the sets and costumes that I saw were impressive, and some of U2's songs weren't bad -- moody and melodic, if not all that theatrical -- but even people working on the show weren't quite sure what it was going to be like.
"A lot of it seems to exist only in Julie's head," one source says.
Which may be where it remains for a long, long time.
Read it here at the NYP