"Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark"

"Spider-Man" Broadway producers sue director Taymor

The producers of Broadway's version of "Spider-Man" filed a countersuit against the musical's ousted director Julie Taymor on Tuesday, accusing her of jeopardizing the production by not caring about ticket sales.

The 66-page filing submitted in federal court in New York by producers Michael Cohl and Jeremiah J. Harris, accuses Taymor of "developing a dark, disjointed and hallucinogenic musical," and it comes in response to Taylor's lawsuit against them which she filed in November.

After a disastrous start that saw injuries to actors and opening night delays, "Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark" has been packing in audiences on Broadway. It made a record-setting $2.9m from Christmas to New Year's Day, according to figures from industry website The Broadway League.

The stunt-heavy musical based on Marvel Comics' most famous character, which cost over $70m to bring to the stage with music by Bono and The Edge, was reworked after Taymor was fired from the production in March 2011.

Taymor, the Tony-winning director of "The Lion King," worked on the musical's original book -- the non-sung words -- before she left the show.

Her copyright infringement lawsuit filed against the "Spider-Man" producers last year argued that, after the show was revamped, the producers continued to make "unauthorized and unlawful use" of her written works.

But attorneys for the producers, in their countersuit filed on Tuesday, stated that Taymor breached her duties to co-write and collaborate on the musical.

"Taymore refused to develop a musical that followed the original, family-friendly 'Spider-Man' story, which was depicted in the Marvel comic books and the hugely successful motion picture trilogy based on them," the lawsuit stated.

"Instead, Taymor, who admits that she was not a fan of the 'Spider-Man' story prior to her involvement with the musical, insisted on developing a dark, disjointed and hallucinogenic musical involving suicide, sex and death."

An attorney for Taymor could not be reached for comment.

Her lawsuit stated she suffered over $1m in damages.

The countersuit filed by producers on Tuesday brought to light what it described as conflicts between Taymor's creative desires and the show's need to turn a profit.

At one point, Taymor used an expletive to say that she did not care "about audience reaction" to the musical, the lawsuit stated.

"Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark" received poor reviews when it opened under Taymor's direction in preview shows in late 2010, and the production suffered cast member injuries in its first weeks.

When it officially opened in June 2011, after Taymor's ouster, critics only warmed slightly to the new show. But audiences, who were drawn in part by the show's sensational publicity, began to make the show a hit.

The musical has grossed over $81m to date, according to The Broadway League.

(Published by Reuters - January 18, 2012)


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9/11/11 - Julie Taymor sues 'Spider-Man' team over royalties - click here.


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