I'm going to try to avoid the spider metaphors here, but the Interwebs (oops...) have been all atwitter this week about the alleged demise of the highly anticipated Spider-Man musical. We've been hearing for months about how director Julie Taymor was being rather profligate with the investors' money. The show's capitalization has been rumored to be as high as $45 million, which is more than twice as expensive as any other show in Broadway history.
Last week, Variety reported that the massive production had ground to a standstill because the investors have simply run out of cash. Earlier this week, the gadflies on All That Chat were buzzing about how the actors in the show had been released from their contracts, and were free to pursue other work. Then today, Michael Riedel, The New York Post's gadfly extraordinaire, gleefully announced that, although the show's investors have been frantically trying to line up additional financing, no one is biting, and the show may well be dead in the water.
But even if Spider-Man does proceed, the prospects for the show turning a profit would likely be grim. According to Riedel's sources and/or calculations, with a $45-million capitalization, Spider-Man would need to run at capacity for 5 years to break even. Compare that to Wicked, which despite a capitalization north of $10 million, reportedly recouped in about 14 months. One of the factors driving up the Spider-Man production costs was that the Hilton Theater reportedly needed to be gutted and rebuilt to accommodate Taymor's design concept. Well, the Hilton has indeed been gutted, but now that Spider-Man is apparently moribund, that leaves Broadway with a big ole empty cavern on 42nd Street.
Potentially lost in the shuffle is a score by Bono and The Edge, which Riedel refers to as "moody and melodic, if not all that theatrical." Could the score possibly resurface, say as a concept album, or individual tracks on a future U2 release? Or perhaps Spider-Man the show could find a berth in, say, Las Vegas, where a $45-million price tag would be more in line with the other resident shows ensconced on the strip? Whatever, it's looking increasingly likely, if not downright certain, that Spider-Man won't be flying on Broadway any time soon.