Producers are turning the lights off forever on the Spider-Man musical on Broadway early next year, the final chapter in the story of most expensive theatrical show ever that shook off a troubled launch to become a hit and is now limping away to Las Vegas.
Rick Miramontez, a spokesman for the show, said in a statement late Monday that “Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark” will end its run in January and will next appear in Vegas. “Further details will be announced in the weeks to come,” he said.
The show’s box office take – once putting it among Broadway’s biggest earners – sprung a leak this summer and never recovered. It last broke the $1 million mark in mid-August and has limped through a dismal fall. Producers had said it needed to make $1.2 million a week just to break even.
Last week the show took in just $742,595, less than half its $1,543,508 potential despite a Foxwoods Theatre that was three-quarters full. The musical, with songs by U2’s Bono and The Edge, is now routinely discounting tickets and a move to a smaller venue doesn’t make financial sense.
The lease to the massive Foxwoods changed hands in May from Live Nation Entertainment to the Ambassador Theatre Group for about $60 million. The new owner may end up with a new tenant: A musical of “King Kong” that’s currently in Australia.
“Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark” was Broadway’s most expensive show with a price tag of $75 million and had a rocky start, with six delays in its opening night, injuries to several actors, a shake-up that led to the firing of original director Julie Taymor and critical drubbing.
It began previews in late 2010 but finally officially opened in mid-June 2011, long after many critics had already tired of the delays and written crushing reviews. Its number of performances recently crossed the 1,000 mark.
A future home for the show has swirled for months as its earnings dipped. A touring version had been initially discussed but a permanent home always seemed a better fit for a show that has loads of aerial acrobatics, high tech sets and digital projections.
One thing that has stood in the way of a move away from Broadway was the legal uncertainty that clouded its future. Taymor, the original “Spider-Man” director and co-book writer, was fired in 2011 after years of delays, accidents and critical backlash.
Taymor slapped the producers, led by Michael Cohl and Jeremiah J. Harris, as well as Glen Berger, her former co-book writer, with a federal copyright infringement lawsuit, alleging they violated her creative rights and hadn’t compensated her for the work she put into the show. The producers’ filed a counterclaim asserting the copyright claims were baseless. A settlement was announced in April.
The show may not have made a profit but it left one box office milestone behind. In January 2012, the comic book musical took in a whopping $2,941,790 over nine performances, which is the highest single-week gross of any show in Broadway history.