Peter Parker may be an A-list hero in the Marvel Universe, but when it comes to Broadway, he is one of the biggest losers of all time. According to the New York Times, the bizarrely-titled Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark, the musical starring your friendly neighborhood webslinger, will be closing on January 4, 2014. The show’s demise at the end of four years is a result of many calamities which contributed to a severe decline in ticket sales and an enormous $60 million loss to investors.
The announcement detailing the show’s failure apparently shocked investors. It has been reported that some of the people who put money into Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark have not been paid anything at all during the show’s entire run. This is likely because the musical’s losses are several times larger than those of a typical Broadway production. According to the New York Times,
While Broadway flops usually lose $5 million to $15 million, “Spider-Man” will lose far more, given the show’s record-setting $75 million capitalization; the enormous weekly costs of running this special effects-laden production; and its operating losses of hundreds of thousands of dollars a week this fall, as the box office faltered.
The rightfully-disgruntled investors blamed several factors for Spider-Man’s poor performance. The program’s budget was unrestrained and reached astronomical levels. In addition, the show’s second selling point, music written by U2’s Bono and the Edge, failed to impress critics and attract audiences. One of the backers is quoted as saying,
“A lot of us feel that it’s an extraordinary show with lousy music, but the main problem is that the budget numbers were a disaster — just a disaster.”
Turn Off The Dark will find new life in Las Vegas, but there is not much anticipation for better reception. One of the show’s producers adequately summed up how most people feel about the show’s relocation.
“I don’t know if it will work in Vegas, either, or if I’d want to be a part of it there…I don’t want to be stupid again.”
Disaster is the most accurate term that could be used to describe this show and the mayhem surrounding it. Turn Off The Dark is one of those god-awful ideas that should never, ever, work and then doesn’t. As a person who has been following its trials and tribulations from its inception, I had that oft-cited Old Yeller feeling about Turn Off The Dark early on in its life. The moment I knew the show was absolutely doomed was when I read about one of its first shows, when the actor playing Spider-Man found himself helplessly stuck in the air above the audience, delaying the performance for several hours.
This incident would serve as a prelude to the series of unfortunate events that plagued the show throughout its run. What follows is an accurate but not at all comprehensive list of the show’s various mishaps, just off the top of my head:
– The original script (which included six villains, an ancient spider spirit, and basically made no sense) was so poorly received, it was almost completely re-written months after the show’s debut
– Audience members regularly booed and heckled the performers, cackled loudly, and walked out of shows
– Several actors in lead roles, including Spider-Man, simply quit the production
– Many actors were severely injured while performing the show’s complex stunts…
-…which led New York City officials to suspend the show until it was rewritten yet again to be less dangerous
– The Green Goblin also got stuck above the audience once
With all these factors (and MANY more) against it, there was no possible way this show could have succeeded. This is one of those catastrophe’s that demands an in-depth documentary and I am tempted to make it myself. It’s just such an incredible story of how everything can keep going wrong when no one is smart enough to pull the plug.
My only regret is that I never got to see Turn Off The Dark fall apart in person. Alas, perhaps I can catch it in Vegas.
Do you have any thoughts about the fate of the Spider-Man musical? Are you one of the “fortunate” few who got to see it? Share your thoughts in the comments!