Now that Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark has conquered Broadway, lead producer Michael Cohl tells Billboard.biz that it is time to start planning to take Spidey to arenas around the world.
Cohl's biggest acclaim has come as a producer, of all the Rolling Stones tours from 1989's Steel Wheels through their last, the $558 million-grossing (according to Boxscore) Bigger Bang tour of 2005-07; of Yo Gabba Gabba under his current company S2BN, (winner of the Creative Content award at the 2010 Billboard Touring Awards); and, of course, Spider-Man: Turn Of the Dark, the most expensive and technologically ambitious Broadway show ever mounted and now churning out $1.5 million a week 19 months in.
Cohl, winner of the inaugural Billboard Legend Of Live award in 2004, spoke with Billboard as his most recent project, the How To Train Your Dragon Live Spectacular, prepares to take take flight. Cohl serves as promoter for this tour, with producers Dreamworks and RZO Productions, the latter being General Manager for the tour, labeling themselves as RZO Dragons. That tour begins with a preview at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., on June 27 and will be out for up to three years.
The concept is based on the $500 million Dreamworks blockbuster "How To Train Your Dragon," which, given Cohl is not in that specific demo, begs the question of how did Cohl get involved? "I knew some people that said they were looking for a promoter so I said, 'well, here I am,'" he says. "It's not exactly my bailiwick, but I have a pretty good idea from Spider-Man and other shows that we've done... about how to help with this, they were interested, and we made a deal."
Cohl points out that the Dragons tour appeals to "a whole bunch" of demographics, "parents with their kids who are gonna have one of the most exciting times they could ever have with their kids. And there's also an older demo that doesn't have to have any kids but is just into where technology and science fiction and fantasy are going to, and they'll be interested in watching this show." He adds that Dragon "fits into what we're doing. We've got Spider-Man, we've got Rock of Ages, Yo Gabba, and another show called 'Super Why!' we're launching this summer. It's an area of shows that I'm really into these days."
For its part, Spider-Man is "doing great," according to Cohl. "We're starting to look at other markets, and mostly we're starting to think about an arena tour," he says, admitting that when he spoke with Billboard amid Spider-Man's turbulent launch that he hadn't even yet considered an arena tour. "Before [when we spoke] it was too soon," he says. "Now we're into our second year, we've been going 19 months, we're getting a lot of phone calls, and it's time to start thinking about it."
A Spider-Man arena tour would be produced by S2BN and is at least "a year and a half away," Cohl says, adding that this summer's new Spider-Man film can only be viewed as a positive for Turn Off The Dark. "I hear [the new film] is great, so I believe it's going to be a great help."
Cohl will forever be linked to the Rolling Stones in history, so one can't help but ask if he knows the state of discussions about a 50th Anniversary tour for the band. "Nothing I know of," he says. "Not even off the record. On the record, off the record, it's all the same. I got nothin' today."