Spiderman: Turn Off The Dark is extraordinary. It seems like a brilliant idea. It is original. It is complex. It is cool. It’s cutting-edge. It is a $65,000,000 (and climbing) disaster.
This supposedly paradigm-changing musical, with opening now postponed for the fourth time to March, is based on the comic book and movie character and is conceived and composed by Bono and the Edge from U2 and directed by the gifted Julie Taymor. It was anticipated by many as the hit of the Broadway season.
What it actually is is a tuneless, undramatic high-flying ice show. It has no opening number, a laughable song about shoe-shopping, the leads can’t act, and it needs a totally new book.
It has been plagued by numerous serious injuries and an undependable set. To cite just one example, Spiderman double, Christopher Tierney, recently fell 30 feet, suffering skull fractures, broken ribs, broken wrists and internal bleeding. One night Spiderman was left floating and spinning for 20 minutes over the audience. The show is frequently stopped to fix malfunctioning sets and technology.
The musical is a sell-out for the present, but not because folks are going to see a Broadway show. They are going because they hope to see violence, mayhem and disaster. Like going to a hockey game to see the fights or going to the Roman Coliseum to see the Christians devoured by the lions. The drama, actually, consists of a ghoulish schadenfreude external to the essence of the play.
In terms of sales it is also important to know when to abandon the chase. No matter how right something looks in theory, one key to successful sales is knowing when to cut your losses and move on. As chief salesman for my company Corporate Rain, I certainly have had to learn to cut bait on even the most promising, exciting projects when they hopelessly begin to devour too much money, time, and creative energy. It is often a fine line between a focused determination to make an idea or project work and an inefficient investment of the time and effort poured into an abyss. A lot of a well-honed, healthy sales instinct is knowing when to persist and when to let go.
As Ralph Waldo Emerson put it, “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.”
Thank you, Ralph Waldo.