'Spider-Man: Turn off the Dark' has become a bit of a punchline over the last month or so, but the latest news about the Broadway adaptation of the popular Marvel comic will have Julie Taymor and her producers laughing – all the way to the bank.
'The New York Times' is reporting that the upstart production, plagued by bad press since a rash of accidents left several actors and crew injured, has knocked 'Wicked' from the top of its Broadway box-office perch last week – barely. The webslinger edged out the revised take on 'The Wizard of Oz' by a whopping $58. The margin might have been bigger – 'Wicked's' 1.5 million haul was based on 100% of the audience paying for tickets, while Spidey's numbers didn't factor in all the free and reduced price seats they were offering patrons while it continues its preview period. 'Wicked' had an average paid admission of $109.76, while 'Spider-Man' was slightly less at $102.86.
Could this be a portent of things to come? 'Wicked' has been one of the highest earning shows on Broadway since it debuted back in 2003, while 'Spider-Man' won't officially open until February 7th (after nearly a year of delays). The battle could be quite interesting – as 'Spider-Man' plays in a slightly larger theater (The Foxwood Theater) and boasts the name recognition of director Taymor (who helmed the stage version of 'The Lion King') and music from U2's Bono and The Edge. However, as The Times mentions, the 'Wicked' team has more experience in figuring out how to sell the most seats at premium ($300 a pop) prices – which should keep its grosses in the stratosphere for the foreseeable future. Plus, 'Wicked' hasn't shown any signs of waning popularity even after a seven year run. It's a proven commodity.
Either way, it seems safe to say that the executives behind 'Spider-Man' have to be breathing a sigh of relief. After weeks of bad news, edging out a popular production like 'Wicked' is definitely something to crow about. Sony Films executives have to be pleased as well – as negative publicity for the musical could have a trickle down effect that compromises the earning ability of the new 'Spider-Man' movie, which is set to reboot the franchise.
Strange, though, that Spider-Man's toughest adversary may not turn out to be The Green Goblin or Doctor Octopus – but might instead be the Wicked Witch of the West. What do you guys think? Is this the first round in a Broadway battle set to last for the next few years, or was Spidey's success a fluke bolstered by all the (negative) publicity it's received in the past month or so?