Julie Taymor’s lawsuit against the producers of Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark is turning into a high-stakes game. Why else would the producers file countersuit against the former director over such ridiculous claims?
The countersuit claims that Taymor is essentially trying to sabotage the show. But countersuits are usually filed for another reason–to financially wear down the opposition and get better settlement terms.
Taymor has the backing of the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society, Inc., which has been representing the director. But the producers are suing them too, on equally specious grounds–violating federal antitrust laws.
Taymor’s lawsuit probably has been filed on a contingency basis. When it comes to defending against a lawsuit, the meter starts running right off the bat. Then, it’s more a question of who has deeper pockets.
Taymor sued the trouble-plagued show’s producers last November, claiming that they violated her rights as one of the musical’s authors and failed to compensate her for her work. The suit also seeks to bar the producers from bringing the musical to non-Broadway venues. Read between the lines: without cutting her in.
The countersuit claims that Taymnor failed to do her job. The suit also alleges she is out to injure investors by seeking to block future productions. “If successful, Taymor will stop hundreds of performers and technicians from getting jobs working on the Musical and will prevent new audience members from seeing the show.”
That’s a worthy concern, but in reality, they issue is money. The show got off to a rough start. It was plagued by accidents and faulty equipment. But the bugs have been worked out, and it’s been one of the most popular shows on Broadway.
The show grossed nearly $3 million over nine performances over the holidays, making it the highest single-week gross of any show in Broadway history, according to The Broadway League. Old record holder, Wicked, took in $2.2 million over an eight-show week last year. Wicked took in $2.7 million over the nine-show week.
The Tony Awards Administration Committee is also sticking by Taymor. It said she will be eligible for a Tony Award in the category of Best Direction of a Musical for the show. Won’t that be an interesting mix on stage if she wins.
Investors have poured more than $75 million into the show. With its current Broadway take, about $1.2 million a week in ticket sales, it could take years for them to recoup their investment. Taking the show on the road, likely Las Vegas, would speed things up, according to deadline.com
After Taymor left, the producers brought in Barnum & Bailey veteran Philip Wm. McKinley to fix the show’s technical problems, and Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and Glen Berger to rewrite the show. “The show is a success despite Taymor, not because of her,” the suit alleges.
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Keith Girard is Editor and Pubilsher of TheImproper Magazine, New York City’s cutting edge arts, entertainment and lifestyle Web magazine. Before that, he was editor-in-chief of Billboard magazine and a reporter for the Washington Post.