Spi­der-Man headed to Ve­gas af­ter dif­fi­cult birth, run in N.Y.

Winnipeg Free Press - Section G - - ENTERTAINMENT - By Mark Kennedy

NEW YORK — One of the lead producers of Broad­way’s Spi­der-Man: Turn Off the Dark says mov­ing the show to Las Ve­gas makes sense be­cause Sin City has al­ways been a bet­ter fit for the splashy mu­si­cal than the Great White Way. “We can have a more ex­cit­ing and bet­ter show in Las Ve­gas. To me, Las Ve­gas is the town of show busi­ness,” Michael Cohl said this week af­ter an­nounc­ing the Broad­way ver­sion would close in Jan­uary. “If you look at our show, it’s much, much more a spec­ta­cle and a Ve­gas show than a Broad­way show. So I think we’re go­ing to have a great time there.” Cohl said he and pro­ducer Jeremiah J. Har­ris de­cided to pull the plug on the New York ver­sion af­ter the show — among Broad­way’s big­gest earn­ers for years — sprung a leak over the sum­mer and never re­cov­ered. It last broke the $1 mil­lion mark in mid-Au­gust and has limped through a dis­mal fall. Producers had said it needed to make $1.2 mil­lion a week just to break even. “It’s no se­cret that Septem­ber and Oc­to­ber were not a lot of fun. It was scream­ing at us: ‘The time has come.’ And so there it is. It’s come,” Cohl said. “We ex­pect to have a good run through the rest of the year, and the last cou­ple of weeks of De­cem­ber we ex­pect to be fan­tas­tic be­cause they have been the last years.” Last week, the show took in just $742,595, less than half its $1,543,508 po­ten­tial de­spite a Fox­woods The­atre that was three-quar­ters full. The mu­si­cal, with songs by U2’s Bono and The Edge, is now rou­tinely dis­count­ing tick­ets. Spi­der-Man: Turn Off the Dark — Broad­way’s most ex­pen­sive show, with a price tag of $75 mil­lion — had a rocky start, with six de­lays in its open­ing night, in­juries to sev­eral ac­tors, a shakeup that led to the fir­ing of orig­i­nal di­rec­tor Julie Tay­mor and crit­i­cal drub­bing. The show be­gan pre­views in late 2010 but didn’t of­fi­cially open un­til mid-June 2011, long af­ter many crit­ics had al­ready tired of the de­lays and writ­ten crush­ing re­views. Some two mil­lion peo­ple have seen it and it will have played 1,268 per­for­mances when it closes on Jan. 4. Of the dif­fi­cult de­ci­sion to aban­don New York, Cohl was philo­soph­i­cal: “It’s not heart-wrench­ing. Heart-wrench­ing is when your kid is sick in the hos­pi­tal.” The num­bers were sim­ply no longer there: It at­tracted 9,000 ticket buy­ers a week but needed 10,000 or 11,000. He added that there were eco­nomic ad­van­tages to clos­ing and hav­ing the Ve­gas show use some el­e­ments of the Broad­way pro­duc­tion. And look­ing ahead of­fered no respite: Jan­uary and Fe­bru­ary are of­ten cold and lonely months on the Great White Way. Word of a new home for the show has swirled for months as its earn­ings dipped. A tour­ing ver­sion ini­tially had been dis­cussed but a per­ma­nent home al­ways seemed a bet­ter fit for a show that has loads of aerial ac­ro­bat­ics, high-tech sets and dig­i­tal pro­jec­tions. One thing that has stood in the way of a move from Broad­way was the le­gal un­cer­tainty that clouded its fu­ture. Tay­mor, the orig­i­nal Spi­der­Man di­rec­tor and co-book writer, was fired in 2011. She slapped the producers and oth­ers with a fed­eral copy­right in­fringe­ment law­suit, al­leg­ing they vi­o­lated her cre­ative rights and hadn’t com­pen­sated her for the work she put into the show. The producers filed a coun­ter­claim as­sert­ing the copy­right claims were base­less. A set­tle­ment was an­nounced in April. The show may not have made a profit but it left be­hind one box of­fice mile­stone: In Jan­uary 2012, the comic book mu­si­cal took in a whop­ping $2,941,790 over nine per­for­mances, which was the high­est sin­gle-week gross of any show in Broad­way his­tory un­til it was bested by Wicked last year. It also grossed more than $200 mil­lion, mak­ing it the 16th-high­est gross­ing show in Broad­way his­tory. Of the Ve­gas edi­tion, Cohl said all el­e­ments are on the ta­ble — script rewrites, new mu­sic, new stunts. “We’ll work on im­prov­ing ev­ery­thing,” he said. “It could be any­thing. It’s a blank piece of pa­per. We know it’s Spi­der-Man. We know it’s Ve­gas. We know it’s essen­tially what’s play­ing here. But it could change in any num­ber of ways. We’ll have to wait and see.”

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Spi­der-Man: Turn Off the Dark closes in Jan­uary.

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