Spider-Man Most Expensive Musical In History

The New York Times reports the upcoming musical Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark, for which tickets go on sale to the general public this Sunday and the show set to open in the Foxwoods Theatre on 14 November, is set to become the most expensive musical ever staged on Broadway, costing a whopping $60 million just to get to opening night!

Already having stalled once, when the budget was just $50 million and only 30% of it acquired, Spider-Man now has Bono and The Edge as major financial investors, as the U2 front men came to the rescue a year ago. With good reason, of course, because these two guys are also the show’s composers and lyricists.

In good hands with Tony award-winning director Julie Taymor (The Lion King) and rock producer Michael Cohl (The Rolling Stones, U2), Spider-Man costs are more than twice that of Broadway’s current “most-expensive show”, Shrek: The Musical, which reportedly cost $25 million.

If you’re after more comparisons, Disney keep their figures close to their chest, but as a guide the recently opened Australian production of Mary Poppins cost AU $16 million to stage, while Wicked on Broadway cost $14 million in 2003, Jersey Boys cost $8 million in 2005 and Mamma Mia! about $10 million on Broadway in 2001.

With Spider-Man swinging over the audience’s heads into the mezzanine and balcony levels reportedly more impressive than Mary Poppins’ ride with her umbrella, the set for Spider-Man, the musical, will be a pop-up New York City.

Producer Cohl says running costs for the show will be about $1 million a week. While Mamma Mia! on Broadway recouped its initial investment in just 28 weeks, it took 14 months for Wicked to recoup its $14 million investment. Readers of The Drama Teacher would be well aware of Broadway grosses reported on this website each week. Wicked has topped Broadway grosses for all but a couple of weeks in the past 7 years and generally averages about $1.4 million in ticket sales per week (dipping to about $1.3 and peaking at $1.7 million briefly during high season).

Simple maths would suggest Spider-Man will need to run on Broadway for quite a while at near-100% capacity before investors see their money back. Bono and The Edge can afford to wait, I suppose.

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