Even Bono and The Edge's bulletproof music and lyrics may not be enough to save the pair's high-profile Broadway debut, 'Spider-Man.' Broadway insiders say the show — with a whopper $45M price tag — may be closing before opening night.
The word on the street is that the production crews and cast have had their contracts handed back to them, with many still waiting to be paid.
Critics have slammed the huge production costs of the musical, saying there was no way it could ever turn a profit. But at the same time, they have said that many gambles like this have worked in the past — particularly when the creative team has the chops and the producers know how to control costs.
Bono and The Edge's music and drawing power were seen as givens, as was the reputation of director Julie Taymor, who directed Disney's incredibly expensive "Lion King" — a show that still packs them. Besides its high production costs and elaborate staging, Disney spent millions to renovate the dilapidated New Amsterdam Theater into a gem of the Great White Way. The stakes were high, but it worked.
But it seems that "Spider-Man's" budget was just a web no investor could escape from.
"The numbers were insane," blasted a Broadway insider. "The weekly running costs alone were $900,000." Even at the giant 1,700-seat Hilton Theater, the show would have to have been a sell-out every night for five years just to recoup what its investors put in.
"They were relying on Bono and U2's name to sell every seat." said a major ticket agent. And then they would have just broke even."
"We sold a boatload of tickets to U2 fans and now we've got to get their money back," he added.
Officially, producers say the show will start previews on Feb. 25 next year. But insiders say there will be nothing to see at the Hilton Theater.
The web started untangling late last week when the show's producers — many of whom are far from Broadway's experienced, hard-core money-men — made a last-minute effort to save Spidey by bringing in some industry veterans. So far, zippo.