'Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark' Producer Settles With Julie Taymor's Union

Producers continue to fight with Taymor over authorship, but make a deal with stage directors union over royalties.

The production company behind Spider-Man: Turn off the Dark has reached an agreement with The Stage Directors and Choreographers Society, the union that represented the show's former director, Julie Taymor, in an arbitration hearing last year.

To settle litigation between the two sides, 8 Legged Productions has agreed that it will pay Taymor's full royalties. In addition, the producers have also reached an agreement on compensation for Taymor on subsequent productions of the show. As a result of the deal. 8 Legged is dismissing with prejudice its lawsuit against the union.

8 Legged, the company run by Michael Cohl and Jeremiah Harris, sued SDC on the same day last month that it answered and filed counterclaims against Taymor in a still-ongoing case.

The production company objected in its lawsuit to the fact that SDC had initiated arbitration against it last June. The effect of that arbitration, according to the producer, sought "to force 8 Legged to pay Taymor full royalties as director and collaborator despite the fact that Taymor caused numerous delays, drove up costs, and failed to direct a Musical about Spider-Man that could open on Broadway."

The producers at the time claimed that the arbitration was illegal and questioned whether SDC could really represent Taymor. The collective bargaining relationship was a "sham," they claimed, and the agreements between SDC and Taymor a conspiracy.

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The dispute has now been put to bed, with the producer recognizing SDC as the representative of professional directors and choreographers in the theatrical world.

“We are pleased to resolve our issues with the producer of Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark and to welcome it into our collective bargaining partnership," said Karen Azenberg, President of the SDC

She added, "The litigation between us is over, and we are hopeful that any remaining issues between the producer and Ms. Taymor regarding her role as author can also be resolved to the satisfaction of all.”

8 Legged and Taymor continue to fight in court despite the fact that the SDC settlement agreement will entitle Taymor to just under $10,000 per week in royalties and additional compensation if the show is mounted outside New York.

Today, the producers filed amended counterclaims to Taymor's lawsuit that alleged her creative input on the show was infringed. 8 Legged says it took "superhuman efforts" to save the show from Taymor's alleged refusal to develop a musical that followed the original, family-friendly Spider-Man story.

Reps for 8 Legged and Taymor are reportedly also attempting to hash out their differences, but at least for the time being, the nasty feud continues.

Spider-Man is the most expensive production in Broadway history and had high-profile injuries and rewrites during its preview period. Now, the show takes in $1.3 million at the box office per week, but it is still expected that several years will pass before the show recoups its some $75 million in initial expenses.

"We are very happy to have reached an amicable compromise with the SDC that will allow us all to move on," said Cohl and Harris in a statement. " Now we can focus our energies on providing an amazing entertainment experience for our audiences, who have come to see the show in record numbers and made it a tremendous hit.  We hope to be able to employ many talented theater professionals, including SDC members, for years to come.”

E-mail: eriqgardner@yahoo.com

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