Relatively speaking, this was a minor issue for the most expensive show in
Broadway history. Since rehearsals began, cast members have suffered gruesome
injuries in the show's high flying action sequences, resulting in a New York
State Department of Labor citation for workplace safety violations; the
production's launch was delayed six times. And despite a major revamp in 2011,
news broke yesterday that the show's New York run is about to come to a
"Spider Man: Turn Off The Dark will be ending its historic Broadway run on
January 4, 2014," said a spokesperson. "We are excited to report that the next
destination for Spider Man will be the entertainment capital of the world: Las
Vegas. Further details will be announced in the weeks to come."
Despite Wholesale Jerseys China the bubbly language, the
move would seem to be an admission of defeat; indeed, the show never lived up
to the expectations generated by its lofty price tag. So, as its backers shift
their focus, Corleone family style, from the Big Apple to Sin City, the
question arises: Can Las Vegas actually save Spider Man? Only time will tell,
but clues exist throughout the show's brief history.
The New York Times reports that the show may still be as much as $60 million
in the red. Even so, Spider Man has grossed more than $200 million over three
years, including $78.5 million in 2012, fourth best on Broadway behind Wicked,
Lion King and Book of Mormon. This year, the show ranks fifth with just shy of
$50 million, according to "Spider wholesale
jerseys Man is the biggest musical ever," says Ken Davenport, co producer
of No. 4 Kinky Boots. "And it's drawing crowds just for that."
That's quite a feat for a show with a past as checkered as Spider Man's. The
tale begins in September 2009, when U2 frontman Bono asked former Live Nation
chief Michael Cohl to take the reins of the troubled show. The Irish rocker,
who knew Cohl from his days as a concert promoter, scored Spider Man with
bandmate the Edge and was an early backer (through Elevation Partners, he's
also an investor in Forbes Media).
When Cohl came on board, the production couldn't even pay its rent, and its
performers were locked out of the Foxwoods Theater. "It was just a complete
mess," he says.
Cohl helped raise another $30 million to get Spider Man off the ground.
After a year of delays, the show opened for previews in November 28, 2010 and
was soon grossing over $1 million per week in spite of well publicized cast
injuries and a raft of negative publicity. But advance sales started drying up
as the terrible reviews mounted.
In March 2011, Cohl replaced director Julie Taymor of Lion King fame with
Philip William McKinley, former director of the Barnum and Bailey circus
(Taymor was not was not available for comment for this story).
At a cost of $12.3 million, plus $4 million in lost ticket sales, the new
team shuttered the operation for nearly a month and rewrote half the show. The
second act's plot in which Arachne, a character from Greek mythology, lures
Spider Man into a series of elaborate traps later revealed to be an illusion
was replaced with an extension of the more familiar Green Goblin narrative.
In other words, less psychodrama, more exploding pumpkins and a spectacle
comprehensible to the show's many young and foreign viewers.
"Not everything on Broadway has to be a Pulitzer prize winning play," says
McKinley. "We are a tourist industry. Wake up and smell the coffee."
The show officially opened in June 2011; by the middle of the summer,
grosses were up to $1.7 million. During a single week in December, ticket sales
totaled $2.9 million, a new Broadway record. Cohl says the show slashed costs
to "under a million a week," making Spider Man profitable on an operating basis
in 2011 and 2012.
But late this August, weekly grosses dipped below $1 million for the first
time since 2012, hitting a low of $622,000 at the end of September. Though the
show has been hovering around $800,000 a week for the past month, the slight
uptick evidently wasn't enough to save the Broadway production.
If Spider Man's investors are to ever see a return, they'll need to find it
elsewhere, namely in Vegas. According to Cohl, the show can be built there for
about $25 million, or roughly one third the cost of the New York version and
operate for about 30% less per week.
By that math, even Spider Man's worst week in New York would be profitable,
or at least break even. There's already a tremendous appetite for high flying
shows in Sin City, as exhibited by Cirque du Soliel's extensive offerings
Zack O'Malley Greenburg here, thanks for reading! I'm a senior editor at
Forbes, where I cover the business of music entertainment. At my day job, I pen
The Beat Report, which gives readers an inside look at the intersection of my
two specialties, business and music. Over the past five years, I've reported on
topics from tourism in Sierra Leone to the earning power of Hip Hop Cash Kings
like Toby Keith to Justin Bieber in the process. In addition to Forbes, where I
started as a summer intern in 2005, I've also written forThe Washington Post,
Sports Illustrated, Vibe, McSweeney's and others. For more, check out my
website and follow me on Twitter, Google+ and Facebook.