Spider-Man Musical's Legal Web Grows More Tangled

Spider-Man Musical's Legal Web Grows More Tangled

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The producers of the troubled musical have filed a counter-suit against former director Julie Taymor, accusing her of creating a messed up play about "suicide, sex and death."

What happens when you create a Broadway musical that's so bad (and expensive) it becomes a punchline before it's even out of previews? If you're Julie Taymor, you wind up getting fired. Then, you sue the show's producers and - a few months later - you get sued in return.

When performances of Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark first started back in 2010, reviews were often scathing, the lead actress left over safety concerns and the show was notorious for injuring its performers. The play's producers believed that the show could still be a hit, but it had to have its music re-written and it was rumored that Taymor might end up leaving the production she'd created.

By March of last year, it looked almost certain that Taymor was about to get retconned out Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark. That wound up happening and the show received a three-week hiatus before performances were resumed. In November, Taymor sued the show's producers, claiming her creative rights were trampled and that she hadn't been properly paid for her involvement in the show.

Now, the producers have filed a counter-suit against Taymor. According to the New York Times:

The producers said in their lawsuit that Ms. Taymor declared that she "could not and would not do the jobs that she was contracted to do," and that others took on those tasks and created a new version of the show, which she cannot lay claim to.

"Taymor refused to develop a musical that followed the original, family-friendly Spider-Man story, which was depicted in the Marvel comic books and the hugely successful motion picture trilogy based on them," lawyers for Michael Cohl and Jeremiah J. Harris, the lead producers, wrote in the filing.

"Instead, Taymor, who admits that she was not a fan of the Spider-Man story prior to her involvement with the musical, insisted on developing a dark, disjointed and hallucinogenic musical involving suicide, sex and death," the lawyers continued, referring to Ms. Taymor's creation of the villain character Arachne.

Taymor reportedly refused to make changes to the script that the producers demanded and was subsequently fired. For some inexplicable reason, Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark is still going strong on Broadway. The show is now out of previews, officially open, and is selling enough tickets to make a profit even after you subtract the $1 million it costs to operate each week.

Source: New York Times via Topless Robot

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Holy crap this thing is still alive? I forgot about it months ago, guess that means nothing bad happened for a bit.

Nouw:
Holy crap this thing is still alive? I forgot about it months ago, guess that means nothing bad happened for a bit.

I saw a review of of this play by team Nchick a months back. They weren't kidding when they called the production dark, disjointed and hallucinogenic. Basically its a bunch of bits and pieces from all the rewrites the show underwent just mashed together. It has no idea what it's trying to be and it's continued run seems to be fueled by basic oddity and curiosity.

By the way, what happens when the wall is finished?

DVS BSTrD:
By the way, what happens when the wall is finished?

That would ruin the surprise wouldn't it ;)? But I can assure you the message will be subtle and in the theme of the album. Especially the message it gives at the very end...maybe the beginning *wink *wink.

So she basically made another moody artsy shitfest, then dressed everyone up as characters from Spiderman so that it could still be produced?
I hope they wipe the floor with her is this is correct.

Nouw:
Holy crap this thing is still alive? I forgot about it months ago, guess that means nothing bad happened for a bit.

You know how theater people say 'Break a leg' before going on stage in hopes of avoiding problems? It's probably best to think of all the disasters that happened during the rehearsals as one giant 'break a leg' before the actual run of the show.

Never before has the line "sixty-five million dollar circus tragedy" been more apt. Glad it's turning a profit week-to-week (no publicity is bad publicity I guess), but it's going to be a LONG time before it recoups its investment.

vansau:
"Taymor refused to develop a musical that followed the original, family-friendly Spider-Man story,

His father-figure is murdered, in part because of his own inaction. Great for the kiddies!

Say what you like about Spiderman: Turn Off the Dark, but after watching this, I'd just about see it myself, if only to see this song live lol

tthor:
Say what you like about Spiderman: Turn Off the Dark, but after watching this, I'd just about see it myself, if only to see this song live lol

Was that video just an updated version of Jack Nicholson going into the fancy restaurant in "Batman?" :P

Seriously, musicals aren't my thing, but I bet this would be...interesting to see in the least. I didn't even know it was still around.

Ah... suicide, sex and death.... all the classic underpinnings of a Spiderman Story.

Seriously though, you should not hire someone like Julie Taymor who obviously isn't the right person for the job. I mean, you should pick someone who is at least familiar with the material and certainly not someone who "admits she was not a fan of the Spiderman story" from the beginning.

So...

How many people want to bet that half of the attendance went to see if someone would get horribly injured?

I would.

I saw this show about a year ago, and as far as I could tell, the suicide/sex/death part was the only part that actually worked. The rest was just kind of odd.
I personally don't believe that a comic-book-themed musical can really work. Just like the new Batman movies, you need to take the source material and adapt it for your audience. For Spider-man, they tried to get a middle ground, and although parts of it worked, most of it just made me never want to pick up a comic book for as long as I lived. Which is too bad, because I was totally going to.

DVS BSTrD:
By the way, what happens when the wall is finished?

We came in?

Nouw:
That would ruin the surprise wouldn't it ;)? But I can assure you the message will be subtle and in the theme of the album. Especially the message it gives at the very end...maybe the beginning *wink *wink.

Isn't this where?

Spidey, what'd you leave behind for me?

Nouw:
Holy crap this thing is still alive? I forgot about it months ago, guess that means nothing bad happened for a bit.

Yeah it is amazing it is still around. I remember hearing about it in a drama class I took in my final semester(fall semester) in college in 2010.

Most of the people and the professor in the class, thought it was interesting, but really a joke for the most part.

The whole situation is rather stupid.

The producers are stupid for hiring Taymor and thinking that she would help make a nice family friendly play. All they had to do was look at her body of work, she does not do family friendly. I know of a few adaptions of Shakespeare plays she has done, some of the darker plays. When you read some of the darker plays and have an oh wow that is dark and sick reaction, that is nothing if you then look at a Taymor adaption. That "oh wow" will be a "WOAH, OH NO!" When she gets a hold of dark and adult stuff, she will ramp up the darkness and adult themes tenfold sometimes more. She'll make you think that Shakespeare's versions of dark parts, done by productions that just play it straight and normal, look tame.

On the other end, Taymor is a moron if she thought that the producers would just let her change the entire play into something that it wasn't suppose to be, and get away with it. As they said, they wanted it to be something that the whole family could enjoy, but with the Taymor version, parents probably would look negligent if they allowed their kids to go see it, because of how adult the themes have become and how much they have been ramped up.

Well, they're persistent, if nothing else. Though their stubbornness leaves something to be desired.

Honestly I didn't know Spider man was family friendly...Don't get me wrong, it depends on what story arc by what comic artist your reading, but yeah. I mean yeah the spider man MOVIES were pretty family friendly, but they also felt watered down. The cartoon on tv back in the 90s was better in my opinion but that could be nostalgia.

But whether they intended Spidey to be family friendly or not, they were stupid to think that a woman who doesn't give a damn about who Spider man is and actually decides to just MAKE a villian when she probably doesn't even understand the actual story of Spider man would do a good job, that's just one dumbass move right there.

But hey, now that Spidey's made it to broadway, maybe some other super heroes will too. Next up Aquaman! And 10 people from the cast will drown!

I took my girlfriend to see the reworked version last week as a belated Christmas present. The result? Surprisingly encouraging. After they got rid of Julie "MORE SPECIAL EFFECTS!!" Taymor and brought in Phillip W. McKinley they managed to fix the show up pretty good. The best thing they did was remove the villain change in the second act(the second act was practically another show in itself before), instead focusing the entire show on the Goblin (act 1 is basically about Norman Osborne's struggles as well as Parker's, while the beginning of act 2 sees him as the Goblin for the first time).

While Taymor's version of the show was disjointed and schizophrenic this version is perfectly coherent and actually quite entertaining. Some of the music was rewritten, and it's actually good. I actually had to get the soundtrack when I couldn't get a few tracks out of my head. Reeve Carney is a good fit for Parker (though the music criminally undersells his true vocal talent), Rebecca Faulkenberry (the current MJ) is actually better than Jennifer Damiano was (to non-Broadway geeks, that's not an easy thing to do), and Patrick Page (Osborne/Goblin) might even get a Tony nomination out of this.

For all the punchlines of the last few years, it really has come together to make something that's genuinely worth seeing. Sure, it isn't going to cause a burst of emotion in anyone (anyone over the age of 10, at least), but it's a really entertaining show nonetheless.

hah im surprised this got finished!

But hey new movie is due to come out so i guess that is helping with interest and sales!

Zachary Amaranth:

DVS BSTrD:
By the way, what happens when the wall is finished?

We came in?

Nouw:
That would ruin the surprise wouldn't it ;)? But I can assure you the message will be subtle and in the theme of the album. Especially the message it gives at the very end...maybe the beginning *wink *wink.

Isn't this where?

Spidey, what'd you leave behind for me?

All in all they were just, webs in the wall.A Pink Floyd cookie for you good sir!

Sonic Doctor:
snip

Ugh, I agree. A lack of co-operation within the musical, a shame. Who would hire someone that is known for making un family-friendly content?

Sounds to me like Taymor should have just taken her pink slip and left quietly. Even though the show is turning a profit now, no thanks to her, I would say the producers are due their two cents from her.

tthor:
Say what you like about Spiderman: Turn Off the Dark, but after watching this, I'd just about see it myself, if only to see this song live lol

That is pretty damn catchy.

tthor:
Say what you like about Spiderman: Turn Off the Dark, but after watching this, I'd just about see it myself, if only to see this song live lol

Uh, what did I just watch?
It just boggles my mind this is an OFFICIAL thing...

That Lizard looks horrible.

I don't really know what to think. I think I'd like it more if they were really serious and failed at it horribly.

Braedan:
So she basically made another moody artsy shitfest, then dressed everyone up as characters from Spiderman so that it could still be produced?
I hope they wipe the floor with her is this is correct.

Oh bullshit, she told the producers well in advance that she wasn't a Spiderman fan and they, in turn, with money in their eyes, figured that hell, that's OK, she's done numerous hits before and we can totally turn this in our favor. This assigning blame crap is just people not willing to accept that both sides screwed up during production.

It's even more hilarious to see the producers call the films "family friendly" fare, and then complain about darkness, suicide, violence and sex, when Raimi's films had all those, maybe barring out the sex (if you wish to forget the innuendo, the see through shirt of Mary Jane in the first film and Spidey going for second base with Betty Brant).

Nouw:

Sonic Doctor:
snip

Ugh, I agree. A lack of co-operation within the musical, a shame. Who would hire someone that is known for making un family-friendly content?

Mostly for name recognition to try and validate themselves with the uppity ups that just eat that kind of theater stuff up, when they find out that their favorite director/writer is working on a play.

I had one professor that during the tragedies section of his Shakespeare class, it seemed he couldn't go more than couple weeks without mentioning something that Taymor had done with one of Shakespeare's plays.

Suicide, sex and death, all things that have happened in Spider-Man. All things that have happened a lot actually. I'm going to make a short, one-example list of each of those that no one will fucking read:

Suicide: After the trauma of dealing with Venom's symbiote Anne Weying (ex-wife of Eddie Brock) is left traumatized and throws herself out of her own appartment window right in front of her ex-husband and Spider-Man, causing her to die.

Death: Let's just lead with the best example, Death of Gwen Stacey; During a battle with the Green Goblin she is throw off the bridge, Spider-Man shoots down a webline to save her only to have the webline result in wiplash, thus snapping his own girlfriend's neck.

Sex: Most fun example; in the most recent issues you see the immediate aftermath of his many, many, MANY sexual exploits with the black cat, not to mention they're always running off to fuck eachother again (well, he's got a GF again now, so that's over now, but still).

EDIT: Also, that song and dance linked; that was fucking attrocious, what was all that shit they added? The goblin doesn't look like that (in ANY of his iterations) and with the exception of Kraven and Electro (SPARKLERS! WOOOO!) those are not the members of the mother fucking sinister six! Hell, what the fuck was with those made up retardations with the bees and the knife dress? Putting aside the dumping on the source materiel, the dancers were often out of sync and a few didn't seem to know what the fuck they were doing.

Baron_BJ:

Suicide: After the trauma of dealing with Venom's symbiote Anne Weying (ex-wife of Eddie Brock) is left traumatized and throws herself out of her own appartment window right in front of her ex-husband and Spider-Man, causing her to die.

Death: Let's just lead with the best example, Death of Gwen Stacey; During a battle with the Green Goblin she is throw off the bridge, Spider-Man shoots down a webline to save her only to have the webline result in wiplash, thus snapping his own girlfriend's neck.

Sex: Most fun example; in the most recent issues you see the immediate aftermath of his many, many, MANY sexual exploits with the black cat, not to mention they're always running off to fuck eachother again (well, he's got a GF again now, so that's over now, but still).

Yeah, seriously. "Suicide, sex and death" seems pretty par for the course for Spidey. I guess the 90s cartoon cut down on that and the recent movie triology moreso, but the comics have plenty of the stuff.

I wonder if more people are watching it due to the bad press or if its the Nascar effect where people show up just to see it when shit goes wrong and people get hurt on set.

wait it's still making a profit??
well I suppose there are a lot of people watching it just because of how bad the news regarding the show has been. or they're hoping to catch a stuntman

It's almost as if musicals lived or died off the music and the publicity.

Oh wait they do.

I suppose this would be the same 'family friendly' Spider-Man where Peter Parker aborted his unborn daughter and ended his marriage with his wife in a deal with the devil to save his eighty year old aunt?

Oh wait, they said family friendly films, where Doctor Octopus commits suicide in the conclusion of the second film thus absoving himself of the sins of having nearly slaughtered the entire population of New York City.

Wait, which family friendly Spider-Man are we talking about here? Because I can't remember a single incarnation of him that hasn't featured death as, y'know, the entire inciting incident for why Peter Parker uses his powers responsibly.

Perhaps the producers are reading an entirely different comic, or perhaps they're just talking out of their arses.

Nouw:

DVS BSTrD:
By the way, what happens when the wall is finished?

That would ruin the surprise wouldn't it ;)? But I can assure you the message will be subtle and in the theme of the album. Especially the message it gives at the very end...maybe the beginning *wink *wink.

Damn you Nouw, now I have to listen to that entire album again when I should be listening to dubstep remixes of pony songs!

OT: I remember seeing the NCchick review of this, it looked incredibly cheesy and incredibly well... Bad. I don't know why a play based on Spiderman, one of the most famous and profitable comic characters can have such poor production values. Well I'm sure it has lots of pretty lights, but when you can't even do safety right that shows that the person making it did a rather shity job.

Screamarie:

But hey, now that Spidey's made it to broadway, maybe some other super heroes will too. Next up Aquaman! And 10 people from the cast will drown!

If they use the Batman: The Brave and the Bold Aquaman, I'd totally go see it.


A musical relies on being ostentatious, loud, and energetic. He is ALL of those things. I'm just unsure as to who they'd cast as his adversary. Black Manta is the obvious choice, but then you run into the problem of a blond haired blue-eyed guy beating up a black guy. At any rate, I'm sure they could re-use a bunch of stuff from/for a "The Little Mermaid" musical.

I really dug the dark turn on spiderman. Dug the U2 stuff too. It disappoints me that the idiots wanna generic it up again.

I actually saw this play, and while sex and death may have been themes, suicide was not. Unless you count the stunts, those may be considered "Suicidal".

I liked the play, it had nothing to do with Spider-Man or any of the established cannon, or anything in general, but it wasn't horrible considering it's a musical.

Just goes to show, that on Broadway, and with the right material involved, "If you build sh*t, they will come".

Reading that is still going, I somehow felt like I heard Max Bialystock and Leo Bloom sing in some New York prison. Where did they go right?

 

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