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Forum Index > Relatively speaking, this was a minor issue

hemm216 4 years ago
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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 close.

"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 there.

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.

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