Julie Taymor and Spider-Man producers reach settlement

Judd Hollander

After months of legal maneuvering, acrimoniously-worded lawsuits and an arbitration proceeding, the producers of Broadway musical Spider-Man Turn Off The Dark have reached a settlement with the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society (SDC) for all claims in regard to Julie Taymor, the show’s co-bookwriter and former director.

Taymor departed the production shortly before it opened in New York last summer, and the SDC filed a lawsuit against 8 Legged Productions LLC, the lead producers for the show, in November of 2011 for monies they claimed the producers owed Taymor for her work on the project.

However, in a press statement issued this week, the Spider-Man producers announced they agreed to pay Taymor all royalties due her for her directorial work on the Broadway production of Spider-Man “from the inception of the run through its duration pursuant to the terms of her director’s agreement.”

Taymor will also be eligible for additional monies in her status as a collaborator on the project, if and when the Broadway production of the show recoups its investment. A press spokesperson told The Stage that said investment is $75 million. The two sides also reached an agreement regarding compensation due to Taymor for any subsequent productions of the show, such as a US national tour or a London engagement.

In return for the producers settling their claims, the SDC agreed that Taymor’s work on Spider-Man is completed and that she will have no further involvement in the show. Taymor will continue to be credited as co-bookwriter, mask designer and listed in the show’s programme as “Additional Direction By”. In addition, all arbitration claims by the parties, which were proceeding concurrently with the now-settled lawsuits, have been withdrawn.

In a statement, Karen Azenberg, president of the SDC, noted: “We are pleased to resolve our issues with the producer of Spider-Man Turn Off The Dark and to welcome it into our collective bargaining partnership. It has employed four of our members (Julie Taymor, Daniel Ezralow, Philip McKinley and Chase Brock) and the success of the show is in our mutual interest. The litigation between us is over, and we are hopeful that any remaining issues between the producer and Ms Taymor regarding her role as author can also be resolved to the satisfaction of all.”

Adding their voices to the SDC were Michael Cohl and Jeremiah Harris of 8 Legged Productions LLC, who said: “We are very happy to have reached an amicable compromise with the SDC that will allow us all to move on. Now we can focus our energies on providing an amazing entertainment experience for our audiences, who have come to see the show in record numbers and made it a tremendous hit. We hope to be able to employ many talented theater professionals, including SDC members, for years to come.”

It remains to be seen what happens when Tony nomination time comes around as the Tony Awards Administrative Committee had previously ruled that Taymor will be eligible for a nomination as Best Director of the Spider-Man musical.

Spider-Man Turn Off The Dark is running at Broadway’s Foxwoods Theatre, where it continues to do good business since it opening there on June 14, 2011. According to statistics from The Broadway League, the show grossed $1,378,970 for the week ending February 12, 2012, playing to 93.48% of capacity. Spider-Man’s average ticket price for that period was $95.54 with a high of $135.50 and a low of $67.50 – not counting premium seats.

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