Friday, January 14, 2011

Spider-Man Delays Again

Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark has delayed opening night again, this time to March 15th, citing technical difficulties and the need for more rehearsal time.  Given the $65 million initial budget for the show, all the buzz can only be good for the show's box office which, given the show's $1-million-per-week running costs, is a VERY good thing.  It is seemingly impossible as it is for the show to cover its weekly running costs because, in order to do that, they would need to sell out every performance, which says nothing about the show's chances at repaying the initial investors.


  1. What are the economics? How much is the weekly revenue if there is a full house? A million dollars a week of expense seems to be a "gi-normous" number. What is a more usual running expense? What is about this one (salaries, theater rental, insurance, rental of lighting/props/flying harnesses and the like?) that makes it so much larger than usual?

  2. There are a lot of factors that go into this one. The first is that, given the scale of the production, everything is much larger than normal ... the sets, the lights, the theater and, if Julie Taymor's costumes and masks for "The Lion King" are any indication, the costumes and masks for this show will be bigger and more complex, as well. Second is the celebrity caliber attached to this show in both Ms. Taymor (who is directing) and Bono and the Edge (who are composing the score). They surely are getting paid handsomely on the bet that their attachment to the show will attract audiences. Third is the abundant amount of time the cast and crew would have to have put into rehearsing a show as complex as "Spider-Man" must be, given all the flying and extra stunts involved in the show. Paying a cast of 40 (plus understudies) union salaries, which are set at minimums around $1600 per week, gets expensive when you have to add into those salaries extra money for doing stunts and flying. It gets even more expensive when you extend the rehearsal period to go over all those stunts again and again. Next, insurance premiums must be through the roof on this show and can only be going up considering all the accidents that have been happening lately, not to mention all the safety mechanisms that have had to be added to the show and the extra rehearsal time for replacement actors for those who have left the show.

  3. If there is a full house every night, then the weekly revenues for Spider-Man should reach about $1 million, but just barely, and major hits are usually the only shows that can sustain that (think "Wicked", "Billy Elliot", "The Lion King", etc.). As for what a "normal" weekly running expense is -- that depends on the show, but can range between $50,000 and $250,000 depending on the complexity of the show. A small show with not many actors and a stock, single-room set would be on the lower end and something more like "Wicked" (which, by the way, had a capitalization of only $14 million back in 2003 and which was considered higher end at the time) would be on the higher end.