The saga of comic book hero Spider-man on Broadway has come to an end, with Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark finishing its run at the Foxwoods Theatre today. The musical concludes having played 1,058 regular performances, plus a record-breaking 182 preview performances.
Initially helmed by The Lion King‘s visionary director Julie Taymor, Spider-man suffered from technical and creative problems and an exploding budget during its development phase and preview period. Eventually a new director and bookwriter came in to get the production under control, and, once it opened, the show enjoyed brisk sales. After roughly three years, Spider-man closes as the 16th highest-grossing Broadway show in history.
However, Spider-man‘s multi-million dollar costs were so high that it likely would have needed to run at a profit for several years more in order to earn back its investment. While the musical was no longer able to make money on Broadway, the show’s producers intend to try their luck with it next in Las Vegas.
The saga of Spider-man on Broadway is coming to an end, as producers have announced that the multi-millionaire dollar musical will be concluding its Broadway run on January 4, 2014. Though the controversial show will likely get a financial boost during the holidays (as do many Broadway musicals), it won’t come close to making back its enormous investment by closing.
With direction by Julie Taymor (The Lion King) and a score by U2’s Bono and The Edge, Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark was initially expected to be a big hit. But Spider-Man experienced numerous troubles and delays during its development, going on to have a record-length preview period on Broadway, resulting in a significant overhaul of the show that included replacing both director Taymor and the original bookwriter.
In addition to creative troubles and an outrageous price tag, Spider-Man also made headlines for a series of injuries to its actors. Featuring incredible aerial stunts that include the actors flying over the audience in fast-paced fight sequences, Spider-Man took its cast to the limits of what had previously been seen in Broadway musicals in terms of acrobatics.
Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark, which plays at the large Foxwoods Theatre, made money for much of its three-year run, offering families the rare Broadway show that actively appealed to young male audiences. But ticket sales dipped in recent months. Some projected that the show would need to run at a profit for as many as 10 years before it could earn back its $75 million investment, meaning that the musical simply couldn’t afford to run at a loss.
Producers already have the next step for Spider-Man planned, though. They will be taking a shorter version of the show to Las Vegas, where its comic book reputation, striking visuals, and big stunts are likely to draw audiences looking for a big-budget alternative to the Vegas Strip’s many Cirque du Soleil shows.
Tourists arriving at JFK’s Terminal 8 today, September 7, will be able to get a little preview of Broadway before even leaving the airport. Cast members from Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark will be performing as a part of an American Airlines sponsored concert series that takes place two or three times each month at center stage in Terminal 8 at John F. Kennedy International Airport.
The series is intended as a way of providing some entertainment for people arriving and waiting to depart for flights, and so far musicians from a variety of genres have been featured. The Tony Award winning Broadway musical Once is slated to be featured later in September, and another Broadway show to-be-named will be featured in October.
American Airlines is the official airline of the Broadway production of Spider-Man, so the superhero musical is a natural choice for the JFK concert series. The show was previously featured on the Terminal 8 stage last month, so the Spider-Man cast have already had a warm-up for this performance.
The September 7 performance of selections from Spider-Man will be held from 2:30pm to 3:15pm.
Displaying a keen sense of humor, the infamous Broadway musical Spider-man Turn Off the Dark celebrated the Tony Awards last week by giving away free tickets to anyone named Tony (or with similar names such as Toni and Antonio). As a result, Spider-man was able to claim — with tongue firmly in cheek — that it had broken the record for most Tonys on Tony Sunday. It was a clever way for the musical, which only received nominations for Set and Costume design (it didn’t win in either category), to turn its general snubbing into a funny, press release-worthy news item.
Advertising and marketing gimmicks like this have a long history on Broadway, with producer David Merrick being one of the most notorious practitioners. Today, many of the gimmicks are internet-driven, such as the Instagram meet-up hosted by End of the Rainbow or Next To Normal‘s special live-tweet performance. The current Jesus Christ Superstar revival held a secret concert for fans, spreading the word through social media.
Some gimmicks, like Bonnie & Clyde‘s posting of “Wanted” posters around town, are designed to intrigue potential Broadway ticket buyers. Other gimmicks, like Dirty Rotten Scoundrels handing out free cast recording CDs to entire audiences, are done with the hopes of creating positive word-of-mouth and repeat business.
Gimmicky Broadway merchandise can be a great way to get people talking about a new Broadway show. This season saw such buzzworthy promotional items as Evita tissues (“Don’t Cry For Me, Argentina”) and Stick Fly fly swatters. Promo items are often passed out at events like “Broadway on Broadway” and the Broadway Flea Market, where superfans receive them and then pass on the word to their friends. And in the age of Facebook and Twitter, this kind of marketing is even more effective, since people can instantly upload photos to show their friends. In this way, the fans themselves are transformed into advertisers, proving that it pays to have a good gimmick.