'Spider-Man' Musical: After Opening Night, Many Challenges Still Loom
The Broadway show, which finally opened Tuesday, has been slammed by critics and needs to run at near-full capacity for years before it begins to see a profit.
The revamped Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark finally opened on Broadway on Tuesday night, and the critics still remain unimpressed.
But the premiere was attended by a slew of celebrities -- including Bill Clinton, Spike Lee, Liam Neeson and Steve Martin -- and was applauded by those in the audience.
So what comes next for the much-maligned, problem-plagued, pricey musical?
"I think it's going to be very interesting to watch," Robyn Goodman, a Tony Award-winning producer whose credits American Idiot and Avenue Q told the Associated Press. "I guess the question is, 'Can they just skip over those reviews and get to the tourist population and continue to do the kind of numbers they're doing?' Most musicals that overcome critics -- like 'Wicked -- have great word-of-mouth or get a target audience that just adores it."
The $70 million production needs to run at near-full capacity for years to start to see a profit, so producers are hoping positive word-of-mouth and repeat attendees boost business (last week, the show earned $1.2 million of its $1.9 million potential).
"Spider-Man is going to have to be on that list of longest-running shows if they are going to make it to recoupment," said Ken Davenport, a Broadway producer working on the Broadway revival of Godspell.
The AP notes that one possibility would be for the show to relocate out of the Foxwoods Theater -- at 1,928 seats, it's the largest on Broadway -- but the effects-heavy show was built specifically for that venue. A stripped-down touring version would also less the show's impact, while a permanent home in Vegas would strip the show of its Broadway cachet, according to the AP.
Meanwhile, revamping the show yet again is not a possibility because the show has already had its opening night, after which revisions typically do not occur.
The other question is whether the principal cast might stay on after their contracts expire in the fall, though Goodman argues that the show's success is not really dependent the cast.
"It's about whether there's enough positive buzz for it to generate people wanting to see those guys flying around and hear Bono's music," she said.
Still, producers Michael Cohl and Jeremiah J. Harris remain optimistic. When asked before opening about their next steps, Cohl replied: "Sometime late in the summer, hopefully we'll be doing great, and it will actually make sense for us to look at each other and say, 'It's a hit. Now what?'"
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