Mike Fleming

The musical Spider-Man Turn Off The Dark is thriving on Broadway, but now there’s more negative attention. The producers of the musical have answered the original lawsuit filed by director and book co-writer Julie Taymor after she was fired. The producers have also launched their own counter suit that challenges her contention she should be paid full royalties despite being sacked. In particular, they are challenging her assertion filed in court last November that the revamped version of the musical infringes on her copyrights, and they are trying to thwart her attempt to bar them from taking the musical to other venues. Even though the musical is grossing well, its $1.2 million weekly running costs mean that recouping of the $75 million budget will happen as slow as molasses–unless the producers take a version of the show on the road, and perhaps to Las Vegas.

The producers charge that while Taymor was contracted to co-write and collaborate on the musical that has music from U2′s Bono and The Edge, she refuses “to fulfill her contractual obligations, declaring that she could not and would not do the jobs that she was contracted to do.” The producers claim her stubbornness left them no choice but to replace her with Philip Wm. McKinley, whose vast background with Barnum & Bailey Circus helped curb the aerial mishaps, and a rewrite by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and Glen Berger cured enough of the production’s ills to save the show. “As a result of all of the changes that Taymor could not and would not make, the Spider-Man musical is now a hit,” the producers asserted. “The show is a success despite Taymor, not because of her.” While Taymor was there to take bows when the long postponed opening night finally happened, it was clear that there would be another chapter in the courts. At its heart, this is about money, and the Spidey producers also filed an antitrust suit against the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society and Taymor in US District Court, Southern District of New York, in response to Taymor’s claim she is entitled to be paid “full royalties as director and collaborator despite the fact that Taymor caused numerous delays, drove up costs, and failed to direct a musical about Spider-Man that could open on Broadway.” Ouch.